Recently there have numerous debates about whether the Washington Nationals should shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point during this season. The Nationals and, General Manager, Mike Rizzo have said all along that they plan on shutting him down somewhere in the range of 160-180 innings. The reason they are doing this is because Strasburg recently underwent Tommy John Surgery.
I understand the skepticism that the Nationals have, after all, I am a Chicago Cubs fan, and have seen Kerry Wood and Mark Prior have their careers derailed by injuries. With that being said, the Nationals should not shut down Strasburg this season unless they see his mechanics begin to break down or his velocity starts to drop. They have currently have the best record in the MLB and should contend for the World Series this year.
Strasburg should continue to pitch into the playoffs this season because the window for a championship is so small. I understand that the Nationals have developed a very young and talented team in hopes that they will be able to compete at a high level for several years to come. The fact is, there is no guarantee that they will be able to do that.
There are several things that can lead to a drop in wins for a team. Two years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies looked like they were poised to be a serious contender for several years to come. They had one of the best starting rotations in baseball to compliment some big hitters in the lineup. Injuries and slumps have devastated their chances and they are currently basement dwellers in their division. There is no guarantee that you will make it back to the top every year. The Nationals should learn from the Phillies and realize that one player is not going to win them a World Series in the future. There is a good chance that some players on the roster will either suffer a serious injury in the future or their production will drop dramatically.
The Nationals are in position to make a deep run into the playoffs this season. They should not spoil their chances by being too cautious with Strasburg. History tells us that you should always try to win now because the future is uncertain.