There has been talk that Washington Nationals players are upset over the team’s impending shut down of pitcher Stephen Strasburg. The question is having known all year it was going to happen should they be?
The answer is yes. They wouldn’t be competitors if they weren’t.
No matter how much money they make pro baseball players want to win. No one wants to go through a 162 game schedule and not make the post season. And when they do get a chance to win it all they want their best team on the field. The Nationals best team includes Strasburg.
The Nationals brain trust can prepare all they want for the post season without Strasburg. They can replace him with lefty John Lannan. They can go to a four man rotation in the post season instead of five. No matter what they do the Nationals will not be at full strength come October and this has some players upset.
Everyone knows that October baseball comes down to solid pitching, tight defense and timely hitting. The teams that put together this combination are the ones who win. The Nationals have had solid pitching, tight defense and timely hitting all season. Strasburg has been an integral part in this. With him out of the rotation playoff opponents know that they will face one less quality starter against the Nats.
If I were a team headed to the post season and knew there was a chance of facing the Nats without Strasburg I’d say, ‘Bring it on and thank you very much.’ It would be like the New York Mets taking Dwight Gooden out of the rotation in 1986 or the Boston Red Sox doing the same with Roger Clemens. The Mets and Red Sox had good enough pitching to win it all without Gooden and Clemens, but it would have been foolish to go into the post season without them.
As far as the Nationals locker room is concerned it is foolish for management to shut down Strasburg now that the team has an opportunity to compete in its first postseason since coming to Washington. Ballplayers know that there are no guarantees that one will ever get another chance to win a championship. They have to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.
So yes the players on the Nationals should be upset over how the team is handling Strasburg.
They wouldn’t be competitors if they weren’t.