To fans all around baseball, the story of the Washington Nationals is one of the best in the game. Manager Davey Johnson reviving baseball in the national capital is a definite feel-good story for even the casual baseball fan. The Nationals went from an 80-win team to an MLB best 98-win team in a matter of a year. However, what is not pleasing baseball people about the Nationals is the way the team handled Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals shut down Strasburg a week early before it was originally scheduled. Strasburg posted a 15-6 record with a 3.16 ERA and struck out 197 batters in only 159 1/3 innings. Strasburg’s final two starts were shaky, which led GM Mike Rizzo to shut him down. This had led GMs to purposefully root against the Nationals in the playoffs.
In a story by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, one GM said that the Nationals…
“don’t deserve to win it” and another said “I hope they go down in flames. I hope it takes another 79 years before they get back to the playoffs. That’s how strongly I feel about it.”
The kicker is that baseball people have come to respect Rizzo, but this decision has clearly torn a hole in the baseball ozone. Strasburg has one more year left on the contract that he signed when he was drafted.
Strasburg is not pitching in the playoffs and it makes you wonder if the Nationals will give him a full season next year or if the team will be as overly cautious as they were this season. If the Nationals lose the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, it makes you wonder if the result would have been the same if Strasburg was in the rotation.
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