Washington Nationals Must Cut the Apron Strings from Stephen Strasburg

By Michael Collins
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I wish I had a nickel for every Washington Nationals fan who is second-guessing the team’s decision to shut down ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg just as the team was getting ready to make their first appearance in the postseason.

OK, so make it a dollar.

Either way, when the Nationals were ousted in five games by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, there had to be a lot of head-shaking and facepalming going on around the Beltway. Having Strasburg pitch at the end of the regular season wouldn’t have done much to change the outcome of the standings, but when you are involved in a short five-game playoff series, it seems ridiculous to leave your best stallion sitting in the stable.

It would be a pity if the Nationals didn’t realize their gaff, and decided not to turn Strasburg loose in 2013. I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and pitch the guy on three days rest every week, but the idea of again shutting him down late-season and depending on the rest of the staff to pick up the slack for arguably one of the best starters in baseball is ludicrous.

Strasburg is a professional baseball pitcher, and part of the responsibility of that job is to stand on the mound and throw the ball with everything you have when the team needs it most. This part of the job description has apparently escaped the likes of Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras.

Boras not only represents Strasburg, but also Washington players Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa, and the team’s three top minor-league prospects. If you don’t think that’s a wedge for Boras to use so that he can make sure that the Nationals don’t go against “medical advice”, you need to lie back and wait for the drugs to wear off.

Boras said to the Washington Post of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, “The good thing about Rizzo, when I had Strasburg — and you know he was a 20-year-old draftee, a year early — I said, ‘Look, you want to draft these players? Great, but you know what, I’m not on board,” Boras then said he told Rizzo. “We won’t sign and I’ll send them back to college. I want to make sure we have an organization that will put the health of these players first.”

So apparently I need an agent to protect me against giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome from doing my job–is that it?

You can argue that Boras would have made good on his non-threats and that the Nationals wouldn’t have had the magic season they did in 2012, and they wouldn’t be sitting pretty to repeat as division champions for a number of years. That’s all well and good, but the truth is that championships are hard to win, and sometimes that window opens and closes before you know it.

The Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division championships, but what they are most remembered for is winning only one World Series during that run. If Boras had been as instrumental in the way the Braves handled their pitching staff, and either Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz had been shut down in 1995, it’s doubtful they would have won any at all.

Let Strasburg pitch, and give the Nationals their best shot at winning it all. My guess is, Strasburg would take a World Series ring over a prolonged career anyway.


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