Nats GM Mike Rizzo said earlier this year that they were going to shut down Stephen Strasburg at 160 innings. The Nats, of course, are in first place and look absolutely legit. So it made sense for Joel Sherman of the New York Post to ask Rizzo if he’s still feeling cool with shutting Strasburg down. Yep:
When we talked by phone yesterday and the topic was broached, Rizzo said, “Joel, you are killing me.” Then he promised, “This is the last time I am discussing this with any member of the media. It is well-chronicled. It is not changing … To ask [Strasburg] to throw 200 innings now [off those previous totals], that is not a prudent way to do business with a 23-year-old, top-of-the-rotation starter we plan to have for a long time. It’s is going to be painful, and we are going to take grief. But I will not shy away from it. I am the caretaker of this organization for the long haul.”
I totally understand the logic there. But I will totally understand the outrage if, in the middle of a playoff push that could lead to a World Series run, the Nats put their best pitcher on the shelf.
Can you imagine what would happen if the Nats lost out on a playoff spot by a couple of games after seeing Chien-Ming Wang get six or seven starts he wouldn’t have otherwise had?
The long-term health of Stephen Strasburg is essential to the future of the Nationals franchise. But so too is not pissing off your fans. I don’t envy Mike Rizzo in having to make that decision, but I think I’d keep a more open mind about things than he seems to have now.