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Mike Rizzo: Stephen Strasburg’s shutdown will be determined by “the eye test”

Jul 19, 2012, 12:53 PM EDT

strasburg ap AP

Mike Rizzo says he has decided when he’s going to shut Stephen Strasburg down for a few starts. And it is him doing the deciding:

“There is no magic number,” Rizzo said. “It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won’t decide and ownership won’t decide. It will be the general manager, and that’s me.”

This backs off earlier comments about Strasburg having a 160 inning limit. Which only makes sense now as it seems likely that the Nationals’ season is going to be longer than most people thought it would be back in spring training.

Still, worth clipping and saving this in the event the move backfires. Because if the Nats lose a bunch of games in his absence, Strasburg comes back rusty and ineffective after the layoff or he gets hurt anyway, it will be interesting to here if Rizzo’s rhetoric changes to “we, as an orgainzation, decided to …” rebop.

  1. vansloot - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    What’s he going to be looking for? Tears streaming down Strasburg’s face?

  2. badintent - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    He’ give Strasburg the ” the jock itch test” and examine his cup.Then send the cup to Snookie to be duct taped over her mouth

    • dangle13x - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Good one. That joke is as trashy as those jersey shore mistakes

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        Two fist pumps to you, sir.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Not a decision i’d want to make. Prior and Wood come to mind immedietly.

    • pmcenroe - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Yeah it certainly does spark memories of those guys however more than the number of innings it was the # of pitches thrown by both those guys; 120-130 each game throughout Sept-Oct 2003. I guessing the Nats know their history

      • natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM

        Yup. Strasburg hasn’t been allowed to throw the number of pitches per start that Prior and Wood threw. By sometimes taking him out an inning early, Davey has been postponing the day when Strasburg has to be shut down.

        Strasburg has thrown more than 100 pitches on only 7 of 18 starts. His max was 119 on June 8 at Fenway, when he struck out 13 in 6 innings.

    • psousa1 - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      for the record Prior has been lights out in AAA for the Red Sox working out of the pen

  4. Jonny 5 - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    And this is the problem with ball clubs today. The guy has just come back from surgery to his elbow and they’ll let an optometrist make the decision? (end sarcasm)

    On a more serious note. I wouldn’t want the job of the guy who decides to keep him playing if his elbow gives out from letting him continue to pitch past the recommended limit.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 19, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      Hold that thought Jonny, the eye test makes perfect sense. If the man can no longer see home plate, do you want him throwing potentially fatal projectiles at three people?

    • natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      It’s not just about the potential for the elbow giving way again. Strasburg pitched only 24 innings last season. Asking him to pitch over 200 innings the following season is a recipe for burnout and ineffectiveness in September/October, which could actually hurt the Nats’ chances. Also, it’s a recipe for a fatigue-related injury to some other part of his body. While Strasburg has established that he’s a very talented pitcher, he hasn’t established that he’s a durable pitcher. That’s something for him to do in 2013.

      When we discuss Strasburg’s innings limit, I go back to Jordan Zimmermann’s case. He was shut down early last season for the same reason. This season, he has no innings limit, he throws 6-7 innings routinely (at least 6 IP in every start this season), and he’s among the MLB leaders in ERA. Of course, the Nats were trying to get to .500 last season and are contending this season. That’s what makes the decision on Strasburg so difficult.

  5. sdelmonte - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    If he can’t read the fifth line on the eye chart, he’s done?

    • ajcardsfan - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Maybe, it’s if his pitch can’t hit the 5th line of the eye chart

  6. therealdeal10 - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Shutting down Stras is a bad move. He could blow his arm up raking leaves for cryin out loud (Ball players have injured themselves doing all kinds of stupid stuff). Whats Rizzo gonna do? Cap him at 160 innings until he’s 30 and then cap him at 180 and say “…well you know power pitchers need to be watched after they turn 30.” If they need him to throw 120 pitches every 5 days then they need pen help.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Are these a bunch of rhetorical questions, or do you want an actual answer?

      • natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:20 PM

        The questions are too absurd. Calling them rhetorical is an insult to rhetorical questions everywhere.

  7. anythingbutyanks - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    If he is definitely going to be shut down at some point, doesn’t it make more sense to do it in August and bring him back in September for a few starts before the playoffs, rather than to go into the playoffs having not pitched for a month or more?

    • jl9830 - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      No because “shut down” means ending his season.

  8. 12strikes - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Eye Test:
    “If I go to the owner/coach and say that I’m shutting down Strasburg and they punch me in the eye, then I know it’s not time yet.”

  9. seeinred87 - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    People seem to forget that the Nationals never said what the innings limit was going to be. People assumed 160 because that’s when they shut Zimmermann down, but it could definitely be more for Stras.

    Here’s a quote from Rizzo in April, saying basically the same thing he’s saying now (from Yahoo):

    “Look, the media put (the 160-innings limit) out there, not me.” Rizzo said. “It probably comes from what Jordan Zimmermann pitched last year.
    “I don’t have a specific pitch count in my mind, a specific innings count in my mind. I am going to refer to my experience as a farm director, as a player development guy, and knowing his body. In conjunction with Davey Johnson and (pitching coach) Steve McCatty, when we feel he’s had enough, we’re going to shut him down.”

  10. klbader - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Couldn’t the maybe put him on the Japanese schedule and just have him pitch once per week? I don’t know how many innings that would save him, but he would still be pitching regularly, just a little less.

  11. unlimitedcriticism - Jul 19, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Still, worth clipping and saving this in the event the move backfires. Because if the Nats lose a bunch of games in his absence, Strasburg comes back rusty and ineffective after the layoff or he gets hurt anyway, it will be interesting to here if Rizzo’s rhetoric changes to “we, as an orgainzation, decided to …” rebop.”

    You know, the media whines all the time about not getting good quotes or about how people don’t take responsibility. Here’s a guy who’s putting it, publicly, on his shoulders, and you’re already chomping at the bit to whale on him. And then you wonder why no one says anything…

    Frankly, good for Rizzo, regardless of the outcome. He could easily hedge his bets and leave his team hanging out to dry. Instead, he’s offering to take the heat. We could use more people like that in this world.

  12. natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    I’m glad Rizzo remembered that he is the GM, and was thoughtful enough to remind us all of the fact.

  13. bravojawja - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Instead of shutting him down at X innings/pitches, wouldn’t it be better to just ease up on the throttle a bit? A car runs out of gas a lot faster going 100mph than 70mph. Take Strasburg out of a game an inning earlier than you normally would, especially in a blowout. Give him an extra day or two of rest when there’s a day off.

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