September 10, 2012
The Strasburg Shutdown and How It All Could Have Been Avoided
The countdown had been coming for months. It was just a matter of what would happen when it ended. We’re of course talking about the Washington Nationals’ declaration that they would shut down starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg at 160 innings pitched, something that the club had said they would be doing after the no. 1 draft pick and Scott Boras client had Tommy John surgery in 2010 to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
We counted. We watched. We never made it that far.
Saturday, the Nats pulled the plug. His projected last game Wednesday at Citi Field against the Mets? Not happening. His last game of 2012 against the Marlins on Friday at National Park is not exactly the way you want to be remembered. Tying his season low for innings pitched in a game, he went just three frames, allowing two runs in the first inning, one run in the second, and two more in the third. That was enough, and Davey Johnson pulled the plug.
So, one of the most closely watched marches to an arbitrary number in recent history will be speculated ad nauseum for the remainder of the season, possibly through the offseason and into next year. After all, the Nationals have painted themselves into a corner by making nothing less than a World Series championship the only way that the topic goes away.
Davey Johnson tried to frame the decision as a way to remove distraction and tried to shoehorn in that physical signs were beginning to show.
"I just told Stephen that his year is over. He's had a great year. I know what he's growing through," Johnson said. "The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable. I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change.”