The Washington Nationals scratched Stephen Strasburg from his start tonight at home against the Atlanta Braves, when Strasburg couldn’t “get loose” in the bullpen before the game.
The people in attendance at the game booed loudly when the decision to pull Strasburg was announced, which isn’t surprising when you consider that one-third of the fans likely bought tickets for that game only because Strasburg was scheduled to start. Nonetheless, it was absolutely the right move for the Nationals to make.
It has already been well-reported that the Nationals have decided (or agreed with Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras) that Strasburg will not pitch more than 160 professional innings this year and that once he reaches that 160 inning cut-off, he will be shut down for the season even if it occurs as early as late August.
Strasburg has already pitched 109.2 innings this season in the majors and minors, which roughly matches the number of innings he pitched in college last year.
The initial diagnosis of Strasburg’s problem is “shoulder inflammation,” and he is listed as “day to day.”
At this point in Strasburg’s career, with all the money, hopes, and aspirations the Nationals have invested in Strasburg, there’s just no reason whatsoever not to err on the side of caution. It’s not like the Nationals are in the thick of a pennant race, and we all know how fragile young pitchers can be.
Don’t kill the Golden Goose, at least not unless there is really something important like a playoff berth or game on the line. Meanwhile, replacement starter Miguel Batista (and the Nats bullpen) shut down the Braves 3-0. Once in a while common sense is rewarded and justice does indeed triumph in the end.