A Plea to the Washington Nationals: Please Do Not Shut Down Stephen Strasburg
Last night, Stephen Strasburg threw another gem for the Washington Nationals. He threw six innings, allowing only one run and striking out ten Atlanta Braves. And while the focus should have been on his 15th win of the year, it turned to what it has been about all year for Strasburg: his 160 innings cap set by Nationals management.
His six innings last night moved his total up to 145.1 innings pitched, 14 and 2/3 innings away from the threshold it would take for him to be shut down for the year. I beg you, Washington Nationals, do not make this mistake. Let him pitch out the rest of the season. There are a multitude of reasons not to shut him down.
First of all, your team is THIRTY GAMES ABOVE .500. They're barely even the Nationals anymore, that's how proficient they have been this season. And of their 77 wins, Strasburg has nearly 1/5th of them. So why in the world would you willingly kill a great season? That's such a Nationals thing do. It's like they actively despise winning.
And the reasoning is as atrocious as it gets. The Nationals claim to want to save Strasburg's arm to lead to a prolonged career, one with more health and less Tommy John surgeries. So essentially, the Nats would rather have Strasburg pitch on .500 teams for more time than he could pitch on a winning team. BRILLIANT.
Not to mention the obvious fact that this move wouldn't even guarantee that Strasburg stayed healthy beyond this season. It's entirely possible that his elbow could spontaneously combust on the first pitch of next season, and then the Nats would have willingly conceded their first real shot to contend at a championship and lost their ace.
All in all, the desire to prolong a young star's career is respectable, but conceding your first legitimate shot at success since moving from Montreal is a risky decision by the Nationals. I sincerely hope they let him pitch.