It may seem like an irrational decision to shut down the ace of your pitching staff with a quarter of the season left to be played, but that is what the Washington Nationals intend to do with Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals are currently the best team in all of Major League Baseball.
Losing Strasburg will not be the end of the season for them.
Is it an unpopular decision? Absolutely.
That said, the efforts put forth by the other starters on this staff should not be overlooked.
Gio Gonzalez has the best record on the team at 14-6 and Jordan Zimmermann has been solid at 9-6 on the season.
Edwin Jackson has quality playoff experience which can be extremely valuable. True, he is only 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. That comes in just seven career playoff games.
To look more closely, you'll see that as a reliever he shut down the 2008 Boston Red Sox in two games, offering a 0.00 ERA in 2.1 innings of work.
That can be dismissed easily enough. However, fast-forward to the 2011 NLDS when he shut down an equally, if not more potent, offense in the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing just two runs in six innings.
Can the Nats continue to roll without Strasburg?
The Nationals offense has never been the selling point of this team. It has always focused around the stellar pitching staff.
Yes, seeing Strasburg on the sidelines is going to hurt.
Would it hurt more to see him do serious damage to his surgically repaired elbow? Strasburg is just 24 years old and is part of the long-term plans of the Nationals.
Lest we forget, John Lannan has performed well in his two games for the Nats this season as well. This is not meant to be an excuse, rather an example of the embarrassment of riches the Nats have in the pitching department.
The team is playing it safe, protecting their investment for sustained success for years to come.
Can the Nationals win it all this season without Strasburg? Yes, they can.
Are they able to get back to the show multiple times in years to come? Quite possibly, and likely on the arm of Strasburg.
There is no reason to panic when Strasburg gets shut down. It will then just be time to play with a bit more Natitude.