The Washington Nationals‘ decision to shut down right-handed ace Stephen Strasburg in early September didn’t sit well with anyone in or around the organization and they’re still upset about it, and for good reason. The decision was especially painful to digest as the Nationals were sent home by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Many thought if Strasburg had been available to pitch in Games 1 and 5 of that series that Washington would have won. Strasburg believes that too and is still not happy with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo for sticking through with the plan.
When a team has a phenom of an athlete like Strasburg, the future of the organization has to revolve around him. It’s just that simple. However, being too cautious can create problems not only for the star, but the rest of the team as well and that’s exactly what happened in Washington this past season. The decision to limit Strasburg was made before the season even began, but could easily have been changed once things got rolling and especially toward the end of the incredible season the Nationals were having.
Strasburg says the whole thing is “still kind of a sore spot” and who can blame him for saying that and/or feeling that way? The kid probably feels like he let his team down even though there was nothing he could do to change it. He fanned 197 batters in 2012 in just 159 and 1/3 innings, so in other words, he’s unnaturally skilled at his craft, but the Nationals didn’t allow him to carry the team into the postseason.
It’s one thing to treat a pitcher cautiously after Tommy John surgery, but it’s another to break his spirit and destroy his confidence in the middle of an incredible season and playoff push. The worst part is the heartache for Nationals fans could be just the beginning if Strasburg never recovers mentally from this moronic decision.