The Nationals have the best record in the major leagues (84-52) and a Magic Number of (19). They ‘re 7.5 games up on Atlanta with four weeks remaining in the regular season–the division crown is all but a formality.
More importantly, Washington is fit to win the NL pennant, unless of course, they were to shut down their best pitcher for the rest of the season.
I understand Steven Strasburg is a huge investment. I understand the Nationals want to protect that investment. But if the decision is left up to me, he pitches the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.
That doesn’t mean I throw caution to the wind with Strasburg. Instead, I’d limit his workload; less innings and fewer games started down the stretch (as suggested by Tom Glavine).
There’s no question postseason pitching is a different animal than the regular season. Every pitch matters, and nearly every pitch is thrown with maxed-out effort. Is that a risk worth taking with Strasburg? I think it is, and here’s why.
A chance to win the World Series should be cherished. So much has to go right to reach such heights and so much cannot be controlled. There’s no guarantee the Nationals find themselves in the same position next year, or even in the coming seasons–with or without Strasburg.
Power-pitching is gold in October. It’s the difference-maker. It’s exactly what Strasburg should be for the Nationals. Shutting him down greatly limits that often fleeting opportunity to win now on a team poised to reach the Fall Classic.
“I’m not sure any of us understand, but it’s the right thing to do,” said Nats manager Davey Johnson.
I don’t think it’s the right move, and judging by Davey’s comment, he doesn’t think so, either.
Johnson himself is a fantastic manager. In fact, I’d consider him a saving grace if Washington sticks to its guns about shelving Strasburg. But good managing is hardly a replacement for a power-pitching ace like Strasburg in any postseason series.
Not to mention, if the Nationals don’t win the NL Pennant the thoughts of ‘what might have been’ could haunt this club for a long, long time. And that’s the last thing I want on my mind if I’m a member of the Nats organization.
When the time’s right to win, you go for it. You don’t play for next year and you don’t play scared. That’s how championships are won.