One of the hottest debates in baseball this summer has been: Should the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in order to save his arm for the long term? Though the decision to sit Strasburg seems to be already decided, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo will not be able to satisfy everyone no matter what he decides.
People will hate on Rizzo either way. In the present time, he will not be able to win. We will all have to wait and see how the future turns out.
Rizzo recently told Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post that "Strasburg will be shut down at some point in September."
If the Nationals were in last place, this would be a non-issue. One can assume that Strasburg would be shut down until next season. There would be no point in continuing the current season.
The problem for Washington this year is that they are one of the top teams in the National League and could be a serious contender come playoff time. Things change from year to year in Major League Baseball, there is no guarantee that they will ever be in this position again.
Like every great debate, both sides think they are correct. Rizzo has plenty of people who feel he is not making the right decision on Strasburg.
Former pitcher, and former Nats analyst, Rob Dibble clearly thinks the choice to sit Strasburg is the wrong one. This Washington Post article from Dan Steinberg outlines some of his feelings. He questions Rizzo's ability to make the decision and blasts Stasburg for not speaking up for himself.
Tommy John (the pitcher for whom the surgery is named) criticized the plan to shut down Strasburg in the USA Today. John said, in the article by Scott Boeck, that if he were a Nats fan "he wouldn't buy tickets" in 2013 if Strasburg is benched.
Despite all of the negativity and backlash, Rizzo has stood his ground.
Rizzo is really stuck between the proverbial "rock and a hard place."
If he shuts down Strasburg as expected, and the Nats start to lose or exit the playoffs early, it will be his fault. Shutting down Strasburg will be blamed for the collapse of the Nats.
If Rizzo lets Strasburg go, and he blows out his arm in the 200th inning, then he could be blamed for ruining the franchise pitcher.
Who really knows what the right call is? It's nothing but pure speculation. No one has the crystal ball that can predict Washington's success without Strasburg. To that point, no one really knows what the long-term effects of pushing him will be.
The only thing I know for sure is that it's a fun debate, and I sure am glad I'm not Mike Rizzo. Years from now, he will either be a hero or a goat for his decision. Time will only tell.