Steven Strasburg: Should the Nationals Shut Him Down?

There is a heated debate going on as to whether or not the Washington Nationals should shut down their prized pitching asset, Steven Strasburg, after he reaches a certain number of innings pitched. Let’s take a look at this, shall we?

The team has not only the right, but an obligation, to protect Strasburg, who they have invested a substantial sum in, and who they are counting on to be their ace for the next several years, if not the next two decades. 

Yes, that is true. However, the plan to shut Strasburg down was made last season, when expectations for the team were quite low. The team has not only exceeded, but blown away the expectations, and is playoff-bound, if their current course holds. You can make the argument that management should discuss the situation with the training staff, see if they can manage Strasburg in such a fashion that the innings limit can be removed, but Strasburg prevented from overdoing it, so as to harness his talent in the postseason.

But standard medical opinion says that restricting him is the smart move for his long-term health. The Nationals are obligated to look at the big picture, the long-term, rather than just the impact he can have in this one, single season. Any extension, or the outright removal, of the innings limit might not have adverse effects this year, next year, or the year after that, but could potentially cost Strasburg five, six years of his career at the end of his career, and the Nationals need to assume that a development of that nature will cost them in the long run as well. 

The fact of the matter is the fans of the Nationals are, for the first time ever, seeing their team play quite well. Why not work with the training staff, keep Strasburg in the rotation, albeit in a decreased capacity for a while, and keep him involved in a potential run to a league championship series, and possibly the World Series? Also, can’t you make the argument that the team organization is being selfish by holding him back? I mean, seriously dude, look at it: the fans want to win; they want to see the best, and the team is saying, “no, our investment is not worth it.” In the modern era, you can see it as the rich protecting their money at the expense of the common man.

Well, the organization is making the hard choice, and not all right choices are popular. If you have thrown time and effort into a project, you will be quite cautious about throwing it out into full-fledged competition right away. The Nationals may not have the universal support of the fans now, but years from now, either fans will either have forgotten about it, or be grateful when Strasburg wins the Cy Young Award and takes them into the playoffs. 

Or, this could be the only year that the Nationals make the playoffs for the next several years, despite Strasburg killing the competition during that same span, and fans will look back on the Nationals’ playoff push this years as the “year that could have been,” punctuated by Strasburg being benched. It could potentially be viewed with utter disdain, and lead to someone in the Nationals organization getting sacrificed at the altar of public uproar as a result, with this being one of the reasons cited.

Given his past injury history, though, it is a risk worth taking to send him out beyond the limit-

Hang on a second: first, let’s consider the origin of the limit. Who came up with it?

I’m not entirely sure. Presumably the medical stuff and doctors who know what they’re talking about. Scott Boras implied as much. 

Precisely. If it was the trainers, it makes more sense. If it’s the organization coming up with an arbitrary number, it’s a public relations move, and a CYA maneuver. If it is indeed the organization, they should have “leaked” that they may consider lifting the limit when the team started to show how well they were playing, then formally lifted it earlier this month; or they should have held him back so he can play in the playoffs.

But if it was the trainers? Is it worth going against medical advice for the sake of a playoff berth? 

A playoff berth? No. Answer me this: what about a World Series title?

You’re kidding, right. Don’t get me wrong: the Nationals have had a great season, but given all the things that can go wrong, you can’t assume anything. 


I think it’s important to remember that, regardless of where the limit originated from, it is being done in the interest of Strasburg’s health. He is coming off of surgery, and the team has invested a lot of money in his development. Even if the fans aren’t happy with it now, and even if the Nats don’t have a great run in the years to come, at a minimum, Strasburg will be a valuable asset, and a morale booster for the team, fans, and organization. 

Hmmm. It’s an interesting point. I just don’t like the rigidity I’m feeling from the Nationals right now.

To be fair, at least they’re consistent. 

Yeah, that’s true. I still think they need to review their position.

Agree to disagree. 

Sure, why not? You up for lunch?


About brettryanclu

I reside in California, and I am a graduate from California Lutheran University, where I received my Masters in Public Policy and Administration. I like to write, talk politics, and exchange comments and opinions.
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