Why the Nationals Are Making a Huge Mistake by Shutting Down Stephen Strasburg

Seth GuttmanContributor IIIAugust 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals wipes his brow during the third inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on July 31, 2012 in Washington, DC. Philadelphia won the game 8-0. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

There has never been a more hyped pitching prospect in the history of baseball than Stephen Strasburg.  

Since he received the call to the majors in 2010, Strasburg has been nothing short of amazing.  His blazing fastball, devastating off-speed pitches and composure on the mound have already made him one of the best pitchers in the game.

After his impressive 2010 debut, Strasburg got hurt on Aug. 21, 2010.  He then had to go under the knife and get Tommy John surgery.  The surgery usually has a one-year recovery timetable, and the phenom was put on the shelf.

Strasburg returned to action on Sept. 6, 2011.  He pitched fairly well in five starts, going 24 innings with a 1.50 ERA and 24 strikeouts.  Heading into the 2012 campaign, there was a lot of hype that Strasburg could take the next step into being one of the elite pitchers in the game.

Just like most analysts predicted, Strasburg has been nothing short of fantastic.  

He's gone 13-5 with 166 strikeouts, a 2.90 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 133.1 innings pitched, helping the Nationals to the best record in baseball (71-44).  However, the GM of the Nationals, Mike Rizzo, plans to shut Strasburg down after he logs 180 innings pitched.  He's also stated that once they shut him down, he will not pitch in the postseason.

It is understandable that a GM would be concerned about the workload of his star after coming off major surgery.

However, in this case, it is inexcusable.  

Strasburg has been asked about this issue since the beginning of the season. Besides claiming that he's fine, he stated they would "need to rip the ball out of his hands" to cut his season short.  

If the Nationals weren't in contention, I would have no issue with ending Strasburg's season prematurely. But the Nationals have a great shot to win a World Series this year, and taking the ball away from their ace will hurt their chances of accomplishing that.


Even if you shut Strasburg down now, there is no guarantee that he wouldn't get hurt in future years. Injuries are an inherent risk of playing the game hard, and if you want to win, you need to take some risks.  The Nationals' front office may be making a very stupid mistake that could divide the clubhouse.  Players such as first baseman Adam LaRoche have already criticized the decision.

If I were Stephen Strasburg, I would fight and plead to the front office to let me pitch.  

If they didn't support my desire to help the team at a crucial time, then I would ask to be traded during the offseason.  It is one thing to ease a player back into the game after an injury, but it's another thing to baby him when you have a chance to do something special.

Without Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals may be looking at a first-round playoff exit. With the young phenom, they have a chance to do something that they have never done before—win the World Series.  

It's in your hands, Mike Rizzo...what are you going to do?