Monday, September 3, 2012

Strasburg meets with Nats brass

US Presswire file photo
Stephen Strasburg will hand over the ball to Davey Johnson twice more this year.
The Nationals purposely told Stephen Strasburg as little as possible all season about their plan to prematurely shut him down -- aside from the fact they would shut him down at some point -- to keep the right-hander from thinking too much about how many innings he had left in his arm before the inevitable end.

Now that the end has nearly arrived, team officials understood it was time to have the conversation they had delayed to this point.

So Strasburg sat down this morning with general manager Mike Rizzo, manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty and was told in no uncertain terms he'll be shut down after two more starts (scheduled to take place Friday against the Marlins at Nationals Park and Sept. 12 against the Mets in New York).

Strasburg voiced his desire to continue pitching beyond the 170 innings or so he'll be held to, according to Johnson, but ultimately will accept the organization's decision.

"It's no secret that Stras is an intense competitor, wants to be here, wants to be contributing, wants to be helping," Johnson said. "And I'm sure it's probably eating him up more than anybody involved in this whole thing, because he wants to be here and help his teammates. He's worked harder than anybody coming back from [Tommy John] surgery, and this is what you dream about being a part of. I know how he feels."

Does Strasburg -- who tossed six scoreless innings yesterday to lower his ERA to 2.95 while raising his league-leading strikeout total to 195 -- understand what the Nationals are trying to do?

"Probably not," Johnson said. "I'm not sure any of us understand, but it's the right thing to do. The way I look at things, I don't think the job the Lerners and the front office have done building this organization, I don't look at this as the only chance you're going to get to be in the postseason or be in the World Series. This team wasn't just piece-mealed together for one year. It's built to last. And we're trying to make sure it lasts."

He may not agree with the decision, but Strasburg has known all along he wouldn't be allowed to finish the season on the mound. He said Sunday he won't abandon his teammates down the stretch, though, and will support them from the dugout.

"I'm in with these guys," he said. "We still have a long way to go. I'm going to fight with them to the end."

Johnson has heard all the criticisms from across the baseball -- and sometimes other sports -- world but insists the Nationals ultimately know what's best for their young ace and that he has properly used him all season.

"He's not a No. 5 starter. He's a No. 1 starter," Johnson said. "It's more detrimental and more haphazard to miss a start, push him back, push him back. That's more dangerous for the health of a pitcher. This is his first full year in the big leagues. It's a big increase in innings. There's tons of records to validate this decision."

15 comments:

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

I wish they could have spread innings better, but their research is solid. I am sure Cub fans wished Cubs had protected Mark Prior.

NatsJack in Florida said...

By far and away the most important move the club has ever made. And the most intelligent.

The importance of proper developement for a once in a lifetime talent cannot be stressed enough. Great job to all involved involved in the process.

Swift Eagle said...

There was NO scenario where the Nats could have avoided controversy (except to have another losing season)

1. Start his season in May? The pundits would point out that games in April count the same as games in Sept.

2. Skip starts in mid season? The doctors say shutting him down and starting him up was even more risky

3. Let him pitch like there's nothing wrong? Loads of evidence shows increasing innings like that is dangerous, even for pitchers who didn't have TJ surgery...

This was an unsolvable riddle from Day 1...

Steady Eddie said...

Given how Werth has become the real clubhouse leader among the players, especially during this pennant race, I'd say he's overall delivering the last word for most of the team:

... it’s real easy for people not in the organization and not on this team to point fingers and call people names and say that this is what should happen and this is what shouldn’t happen. But the bottom line is, this is our guy on our team. And they’re doing what’s right for him and what’s right for our club long term. And I think it’s great.”

peric said...

I wish they could have spread innings better, but their research is solid. I am sure Cub fans wished Cubs had protected Mark Prior.

And YES, F&I Kerry Wood. Riggleman admitted last year that is one thing he regretted was what was done to Kerry Wood. Why would he say that if Wood was really okay as you continue to claim?

Bzl. said...

Yes, kudos to Jayson for saying exactly the right thing.

Now the Nats need to do the only thing that will stop the second-guessers: win the World Series!

peric said...

Bill James said he completely agrees with the cautious, conservative approach but he did mention that he would might have had Strasburg limited to 80 pitches at the beginning of the season.

But that basically would have made him a glorified reliever. They would have had to stack a long reliever/starter right behind him. For Stras it would have been frustrating ... and he would not have had the learning experience he had this season going out every fifth day on a limit of around 100 pitches with no fixed innings limit.

In other words because he has never pitched a full major league season he is still developing. He's not Roy Halladay or Hamels for that matter. In a sense he's really just starting out this season.

So, like Meyer and Karns and Zimm last year he gets shutdown. And he'll likely see the same thing happen to other Nats prospects who make it to the bigs.

Peter B said...

Well I disagree with the decision. There really haven't been any conclusive studies on this sort of thing. Why didn't Davey delay Stras's start by a month or spread out the innings more? The post season is ALL THAT MATTERS!! Werth is apparently drinking Rizzo's cool-aid too...you honestly don't think he wants the team in the best possible position to win the whole thing? No one cares about the Patriots '07-'08 undefeated season, nor should they, because they lost the only game that mattered, and the absolute truth is no one knows what the future will bring, especially in sports. If the Nats don't make it at least to the NLCS, then this season will have been a complete loss in my mind, and Strasburg's efforts in the regular season will be, like the Patriots, a completely wasted effort.

What I hate most about this decision is how calculated it is, which is apparently what everyone else on this blog seems to like about it. We knew months ago this was happening, and now it is coldly and methodically being executed by Rizzo. Is he making the best decision for the long term? Probably, but where's the passion? Sometimes you want some stubborn determination, (see Kevin Costner in Tin Cup). Isn't that what makes sports fun? I'm so sick of this prudent approach, and decisions ostensibly being made for posterity's sake. I care about this season here and now. We're treating this thing as if we have some underfunded pension plan that needs some stretched out at all costs. Rizzo's austerity is boring me, and I'm not so sure it even makes sense. The Nats are no longer building...we're finally there and its time put everything out there. This move will give Rizzo more credibility when signing future players, but at what cost? It's the "last game of the year, Brent. Can't hold anything back now."

Jim Webster said...

Now that it's settled, and the real fans have bought in for the most part, can we have a moratorium on uninformed media blather about it? And certainly no silly questions at White House briefings.

Jim Webster said...

Now that it's settled, and the real fans have bought in for the most part, can we have a moratorium on uninformed media blather about it? And certainly no silly questions at White House briefings.

alexva said...

people treat winning as the be all, end all. how would you like to be a Marlins fan. They've won two titles, yet from year to year they sell off their team as soon as it's over. give me a team that builds, values their players, looks forward to every year as importantly as any. thank you Mike Rizzo and all the powers to be that back him.

natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...

Patriots? I'm sorry, did I somehow stumble into a Boston pointy-ball blog? No? All righty, then. :-) As for the Washington Nationals, I'm on board with taking care of the player for the longer term, and we've known about the plan for more than this season, going back to how they handled Z'nn.

Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa said...

Well I disagree with the decision. There really haven't been any conclusive studies on this sort of thing. Why didn't Davey delay Stras's start by a month or spread out the innings more? The post season is ALL THAT MATTERS!!

Well, this is completely bass-ackwards logic. A lack of "conclusive" studies is a reason for caution, not damn-the-torpedoes recklessness. And the postseason is not ALL THAT MATTERS!!1!, either in MLB or IRL. Championship-itis is a disease, too, albeit a much more attractive one than losing. As to delaying starts, etc., that's asked-and-answered, sixteen different ways from Sunday every day since last March.

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