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Stephen Strasburg won’t pitch in the playoffs

Aug 13, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

Stephen Strasburg

It was reported on Friday that Stephen Strasburg‘s new innings limit for the season is 180.  Bill Ladson of MLB.com has a source telling him that that is not accurate, and that there is not necessarily a magic number of innings. Rather:

The Nationals are expected to have right-hander Stephen Strasburg miss two or three regular-season starts, according to a baseball source.

Well enough. But here’s the jaw-dropper:

The same source went so far as to say Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.

I’m all for taking care of your young pitching talent, but I’m sorry, I find that to be utterly mind-boggling.

One can say anything one wants about caution with respect to Strasburg’s health — and I hate to echo Jeff Francoeur’s wisdom when it comes to anything — but how do Mike Rizzo and the Nationals expect their fans to take it if, in Game 5 of the NLDS, the TBS cameras repeatedly show closeups of Strasburg sitting idly by in the dugout while Edwin Jackson gets lit up by the Cardinals or someone?

I guess they say they’re protecting their most valuable asset for a long and triumphant tomorrow. If so, they had better hope it actually comes. Because there’s certainly no guarantee of that.

138 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. theboysofdallas - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    I agree bc they r a good young who will have plenty of more chances

    • tony34343434 - Aug 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      How did guys like Bob Gibson and even further back, pitch so many innings and never blow out arms and the guys today have glass arms, must be the curve balls at a young age?

      • badintent - Aug 13, 2012 at 7:24 PM

        No, it’s the split finger fastball, tons of pitchers blew their arms out in the 90s, and up to the current days. It can cause the elbow to explode.It came on in the 90′s to make lousy pitchers good ones and good pitchers great ones, and Roger Clemens win 354 games !!. And it’s made Dr Andrews a really rich man.

      • photographsofthesky - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:55 PM

        Selection bias. You remember Bob Gibson *because* his arm didn’t blow out. Whether a pitcher has an arm durable to make it through a whole career with no injury issues pretty much comes down to dumb luck. It’s easy to blame the rise of the slider, or the rise of the splitter, or any number of other possibilities. The truth of it is that we don’t really know how to keep a pitcher’s arm from falling off, but reducing the amount of abuse it’s subjected to generally seems to be a sound theory.

      • materialman80 - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        Because he was Bob Gibson and they don’t make them like that anymore…..

    • jrbdmb - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      And Dan Marino thought he would get plenty of chances in the Super Bowl after going there his rookie season.

      You just never know.

  2. willclarkgameface - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Basically, if this guy sits during October (if the Nats are even in it at that point and right now it’s looking real good for them), they are the dumbest team in baseball. Are the doctors being overly cautious? Is Rizzo completely informed about Strasburg’s health from doctors that are BASEBALL savvy?

    They will lose without him and in 2020 they will look back and say, “Damn. That 2012 season we had a real shot to win it and now that we’ve been in 3rd place the last 6 years, I wish that Strasburg guy – who is now out in the bullpen because he’s completely ineffective – would have been there for us that October.”

    • natslady - Aug 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      And what happens when they lose with him? OK, Lucas (Giolito), c’mon up, we’ll blow out your arm, too.

  3. natslady - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Look, everyone’s favorite phrase is, the playoffs are a crapshoot. Why (potentially) sabatoge your future for a crapshoot? All we were promised was “meaningful games in September.” We are getting them. This is likely to be a good team for years and years to come. We are happy. Can we play the games now?

    • 12strikes - Aug 13, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Your right every year is a crapshoot… But would your rather shoot with loaded dice or with regular dice.
      This year is like shooting with loaded dice. Your team is in 1st – you know that right now.
      Next do you know what place your team is going to be in NEXT Season ( or the season after that or the season after that)?

    • 1historian - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:45 AM

      remember how the cubs ruined a few of their young pitchers

  4. keithbangedyermom - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Apparently Mike Rizzo never got the memo on the whole “no guarantees in baseball.”

    Oh well. Good news for the Reds, Pirates, Giants, Dodgers, Cards and Braves.

  5. keithbangedyermom - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    I’m a Mets fan who lives near Montreal. I know many former Expos fans that now love the Nats. I am genuinely happy for you guys. But you all seem too Pollyanna about this. There are no guarantees that your team will be a perennial playoff team. You have the chance now – you go for it. Skip Stras a few times and then let him roll into the playoffs.

    This plan is lunacy.

    • natslady - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Actually, it’s not. It’s a lot harder to get to the playoffs. In the playoffs you can use a 4 man rotation, use the bullpen a lot. In the regular season, with long road trips and no days off, you need your full 5-man rotation. Rizzo knows what he’s doing.

      • APBA Guy - Aug 13, 2012 at 7:54 PM

        Boy, you are taking a lot of heat for actually remembering the last World Series, where LaRussa essentially unloaded the bullpen every either other game. The Cards used 37 IP from 4 starters in 7 games, and 27 IP of relief.

        Fans hate the idea of a pitcher blowing out his arm. They also hate the idea of him not pitching all the time. As Dallas Green proved, those two ideas are diametrically opposed.

        I vote for Rizzo on this. I think they’ll slow down Stras’s utilization in the next few weeks and you’ll see him in the playoffs, with two guys warming in the pen from the first pitch.

  6. jdouble777 - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    What is so complicated about this predicament?

    Why are they not skipping his spot in the rotation and/or letting him go on 6/7 days rest? That will only make him more effective AS WELL AS allow him to have the remaining season/post-season as an option. Why? Having grown up an Orioles fan prior to Washington finally getting a team, I am all too familiar with what collapses look like and how good other teams are.

    Moreover, Chris Carpenter came back and immediately started tossing 220+ innings. There is no precedent for when someone should be shutdown. He was well enough to come back and pitch a few starts prior to the end of LAST season. He then had the entire off-season to rest and prepare. I agree with being cautious, but this is extreme and a downright disservice to our fans.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      Chris Carpenter came back and immediately started tossing 220+ innings.

      Strasburg, right now, is already 10 IP beyond anything he’s thrown as a professional. Capping him at 180 is almost 60IP beyond anything he’s thrown. 220 would be almost 100(!).

      How is this hard to understand?

    • gostlcards5 - Aug 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Actually, and I know that this goes against what seems to be good logic, someone reported today (can’t remember if it was on ESPN or somewhere else) that if they did this, he would actually have to pitch more because of side bullpen sessions to stay loose between starts than if he stayed in a normal rotation.

      (Seems like an odd statement to me, but I haven’t really looked into numbers.)

  7. wethog66 - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Very interesting comments to read threw. Hilarious even. Especially from Philly fans. Read a lot of “Nats can’t garuntee they will be in contention the next 3 years…” then followed up with “The Phillies will be back. This year was a fluke. The Phillies blah blah blah”. Can you garuntee or can’t you?

    As a Nats fan I am fine with the way Rizzo is handling this. He has been consistent since the opening of Spring Training. Never once waivered in his decision. And now that the time is coming up to shut Strasburg down tools come out of the woodwork to bash him. Its easy to comment on a blog like this, but I bet these same tools would put in a tad more thought if they were the GM of a playoff contending team that has a 24 year old pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. A 24 year old pitcher who has never pitched a full MLB season. Jordan Zimmerman just went threw this last year and the kid hit the wall towards the end of his season last year. I’d rather Rizzo error on the side of caution.

    Also, rotation for the playoffs, if the Nats make it, would look like this without Strasburg. Gio, Zimmerman, Jackson, Detwieler, and Lannan. Looks like a rotation that would match up well against any team the Nats might meet in the playoffs.

  8. natslady - Aug 13, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Craig, you and a lot of commenters seem to think Rizzo is shutting down Verlander. Strasburg is not Verlander–not yet. This is Stras’ first full season in the majors. Didn’t you watch him meltdown in the rain, and wilt in the heat? He is just learning to be a great pitcher, seriously. Just learning the hitters, the league, just learning the strength of his stuff, just learning to get past a muddy mound, bad calls, and fielding errors behind him. He could be one of the great ones, and I for one want to see it.

    And if you watched him pitch, you would see that he has one good game/one bad. And even in the good games, he is stressed, flushed and sweating. That is not a guy at full strength. You of all people should know what happens when pitchers are overused. And no matter how much you limit him to six innings or even skip starts (not happening) Stras is showing ALL the signs of a pitcher on the edge of overuse. Just look at him. Not at the stats, look at him in the flesh.

    Next year, Bryce will be twenty, Stras will be at full-strength physically and mentally. This year, the Nats have overperformed and it’s so fun! But I’m not betting Stras’ future on the crapshoot that is the playoffs.

  9. gsrider911 - Aug 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    I for one, can’t wait to see that blowhard Rizzo squirm if and when the Nats make it to within a game or two of the WS.
    I am not a Stras or Nats fan but enjoy a good team that’s winning, so for speculation-sake; if we’re in the end of October, the Nats are in game 6 or 7 of their series and the only effective Starters they have are worn down. They are playing for their season and have a chance at the WS, meanwhile Stras has been shut down and hasn’t started a game since September.
    Do they give him the ball? Does Rizzo eat his own words?
    There is no proof that innings pitched is damaging to a pitcher. In any other sport where you are paying your athletes to WIN despite their short term health, you have to make the call to play your best players.
    If you don’t, why are you even competing? Is this a warm and fuzzy sport where everyone gets a star on their assignment and we all go home equals? NO. It’s for all the marbles, it’s for a flag in your stadium and a ring. Stras would want to be a part of a winning WS team, let him have his chance.

  10. wethog66 - Aug 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    There is one fact I do know in regards to this whole saga of Strasburg: The same people posting on here that say Rizzo is a fool for shutting down Strasburg, would be calling Rizzo a fool as well if he doesn’t shut Strasburg down now and Strasburg gets hurt leading up to the playoffs.

    Real easy to comment from the cheap seats.

    • 1historian - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:48 AM

      good point. May I add – EVERY comment here is from the cheap seats

  11. voteforno6 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Thomas Boswell’s take: “The Zimmermann and Strasburg decisions are a reason the Nats could sign Giolito and its a reason they will have an inside track with the pitchers/agents on the free agent market in the future. For example, Scott Boras is a big fan of Rizzo’s player development and rehab views. If Rizzo stands firm on Strasburg __and he will__ then the Nats reputation on this will be cast in stone within the industry. It will be an edge for years. And Rizzo knows it.”

    Not for nothing, Lucas Giolito’s father has said that one of the reasons that he signed with the Nats, instead of going to UCLA, is the team’s track record in dealing with injuries.

    • gsrider911 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      When did we all decide that it’s ok to push our kids into sports at the age of 6 when they’d rather be chasing grasshoppers; and then do a 180 when they are pro’s and their entire life’s worth of training and throwing a ball is culminating into a chance at a World Series b/c we’re afraid they may get hurt?
      It just seems a little strange to me. I for one never said they shouldn’t limit his innings in the regular season ala NFL when you’ve made the playoffs. It’s when they are in the position to win (perhaps in late in the playoffs) that it seems ridiculous to limit anyone’s contribution to the team.

      • voteforno6 - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        The issue is, what is the proper way to bring around young pitchers? There are many out there who feel that their workload needs to be limited early in their careers, and increased incrementally from season to season. That is all that the Nats are doing with Strasburg. To say that, future be damned, you should go all in right now is missing half the equation. People keep saying, what about the team? Shouldn’t this player do everything to help out the team, but never seem to care what the team is doing for the player. Too many teams in too many sports (particularly the NFL) treat these athletes as interchangeable slabs of meat; if one goes down, they can always find someone else chasing the dream. To say that this is why they get paid so well is missing the point. Despite how we may think of them, they are still humans. The one thing that these athletes (and really, people in general) want as much as money is respect, and by shutting down Strasburg, the Nats are telling him and everyone else out there that they have enough respect for their athletes that they are willing to sacrifice their short term interests so that they could have the potential for a long career. Boswell is right – that sort of reputation is going to go a long way for them.

        That being said, the Nats have enough depth that they could win it all without Strasburg pitching for them in the postseason.

      • natslady - Aug 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        Good post, voteforno6. Do you wonder why boxing is no longer a sport, and the NFL hovers on the edge? Because the short term “go for the glory” attitude trumps everything. No for me it doesn’t. I’d love to have a world series. But honestly, since I ACTUALLY LIVE IN THIS CITY, I would trade one year of glory for ten of watching Strasburg develop into one of the great ones, even if he eventually takes that greatness to San Diego.

        Also, pitching Stras doesn’t guarantee a WS ring. It may–slightly–improve the odds. Slightly. Not worth it. Call it mediocrity, if you will. I just don’t want one-and-done. Not for my city, and not for Strasburg.

        And as far as Rizzo, he brought us this far. Giolito could be the next Stras or close to it.

      • jrbdmb - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        “boxing is no longer a sport, and the NFL hovers on the edge?”

        NFL hovers on the edge of not being a sport? No need to read your posts anymore, you are clearly delusional.

    • gsrider911 - Aug 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      No6, great follow up. I agree on most counts, I also think that if they asked Stras, in game 6 vs the Giants – – - for a chance to go to the WS, he would want to pitch. Go for the Glory, maybe… but I don’t think that shelving him for 4 weeks and then letting him pitch in the WS or a game before the WS is a bad for his long-term health. Like I said, if your other option is Lannan and he has been getting shelled for 3 games in the Post Season already, and you have no other starters available… is 100 pitches on his arm going to hurt him?
      I know, I speak in terms of cumulative fatigue, wear and tear, etc. and I know that Rizzo didn’t specify what the Inning Limit was (160, 180 doesn’t matter) he want’s to make a stance on valuing players health, I hear you – but a World Series? If it’s in grasp – don’t you put your best available arm on the mound? I don’t want to get into questioning a players contribution vs health and the NFL and Boxing are good examples of the wear and tear issues, but last I looked I saw one 50 year old Jamie Moyer pitch at Coors Field this season, with a surgically repaired ulnar tendon, or whatever. I just call it like it is: this is a blow hard owner putting himself and the perception of their Club ahead of the ultimate goal: winning – - for effect. And at the end of the day, if push comes to shove, he should (and will) pitch Stras in the NL Champ Series or WS if they have the luck, and talent to make it that far.

  12. panktics - Aug 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

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    • chap6869 - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      Why don’t you head on over there and wait for us panktics, we’ll be right over.

    • 1historian - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:49 AM

      no

  13. mianfr - Aug 13, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    The only question that matters: how important is any one World Series title to your team?

    To the Cubs, it’s infinitely valuable to get just one. That’s why even if you blow out two of your tops to get within a couple outs of reaching one, it’s a chance that needed to be taken.

    To the Yankees, on the other side of spectrum, no single World Series is especially valuable. They’re looking to maximize their expected number of World Series titles over a range, which is just a different equation.

    I’d think the Nats would be closer to the Cubs in their preferences, but apparently not.

    • tuckersmith001 - Aug 14, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      I’d turn the coin over on you and say winning every single World Series is important for the Yankees. That’s why it seems like every year they’ll go dump a quarter of a billion dollars on a player in his 30′s and hope it works out. They want to win every single World Series and they act like it. That’s why we hate them, at least why I hate them. Because ownership/management goes balls out to win every year they’ve been able to rack up a legacy unlike any other pro sports team. Racking up a legacy unlike any other team gives you the resources to reinvest and keep it together. If you gave the ghost of George Steinbrenner option of a World Series at the expense of Strasburg’s arm or a healthy Strasburg for a decade and an outside shot at getting back there what do you think he’d do? And if the poor kid went rag-armed he’d go find another. It’s a small picture decision by management, despite the load of BS they’re selling you. A World Series begets far greater long term benefits then one player. This smells like a decision made by a marketing staffer or the whispers of increased TV rights. Some teams want to win, some teams just want to threaten to win.

      • mianfr - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Eh, I would say to look at it from a little broader perspective.

        The Yankees spend all that money to get people in the prime of their careers so that they can capture the high points and try to get multiple World Series titles in that span.

        When’s the last time they really sold out a farm system on a rental player or pushed a prospect too hard? The Yankees really tend to do the opposite, perhaps even to their detriment.

        They don’t go “balls out” to win every year as much as they try to put together a team that will be dominant for five years.

  14. jimcaldwellsucks - Aug 13, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Coddle much?

  15. jcarne9014 - Aug 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    This a mind-numbing stupid decision for SO MANY reasons!!! How many chances do you think you are going to get? Just ask Dan Marino. Go for the wins NOW!! Let’s be realistic…there is no tomorrow in sports anymore. No such thing as a “re-building” year. When you have a chance, you have to capitalize, plain and simple. If not, the 2020 season, will come along, with Strasburg pitching for the Yankees, and the brass in DC will be reminiscing about that great team in 2012 that came so close.

  16. bauman007 - Aug 13, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Seriously! Pitch him till his arm falls off. Any Nats fan that thinks your team is a shoe in for next year is kidding yourself. Injuries happen every year and with the Braves and Phillies in the division this could be your year. Look at the past 5 WS winners, the Yankees are the only team that consistently stays in that mix. The Giants never made it back, the Cards are out of it this year and the Phillies have gotten their turn with the injury cycle. If I was a season ticket holder and my club said “sorry we’re not giving our best effort this year to win a WS but hey we’re hoping we’ll be in the mix next year” I’d be livid.

  17. bauman007 - Aug 13, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    And Nats fans stop talking about your rotation depth, you should never be throwing your 4th or 5th starters in the playoffs. Especially with that first short series you could throw Stras, Gio and Zimmerman and sweep that series with pitching like that. Did I really see a poster name John Lannen? The guy your team demoted to triple A? You want him facing a playoff team?

  18. schmedley69 - Aug 13, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    The Nats are a good team, but their fans are incredibly lame. I hate it when championships are wasted on fan-bases who don’t deserve it and really can’t appreciate it, because they haven’t really suffered through the losing years (like Marlins fans). The Nats have stunk since they came to D.C. but they have been an up and coming team for a few years now, but you would never know it judging by their attendance and TV ratings. Judging by those numbers in years past (they are always last in overall TV ratings), no one in D.C. was really suffering through the losing seasons, because they weren’t even watching. I’m sure that the numbers are up this year now that they are a juggernaut, but I would love nothing more than to see the carpet pulled out from under them this season and for the Nats to miss the playoffs next season. Serves their fans right. They need to experience the agony of defeat a few times before they experience the thrill of victory.

    • sumerduckman - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:26 AM

      Buddy, we HAVE suffered! We suffered through the years of the last place Senators. We suffered when they were shipped out of town TWICE! We suffered through 30+ years of having no team at all!

      Some of us in DC have waited a very long time.

      • schmedley69 - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        Ok, the older Washingtonians deserve to see a winner, but not the younger generation.

    • tuckersmith001 - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Miami was a military outpost for the Second Seminole War the last time the Nats were successful. That’s hyperbole but I think in truth that Walter Johnson was born before Miami was actually incorporated as a city. Miami has twice bought a World Series and immediately dumped their players in a fire sale. They tried again this year but couldn’t even hold it together until August. And despite having not existed for 30 years then being founded, then having scooped up a couple of World Series rings, then dismantling, and even building a new stadium all since the Senators last left town for the Twin Cities (let alone since they were relevant) you suggest that the plight of Marlins fans exceeds that of Washington fans? The plight of Washington baseball fans exceeds generations. Suffering Marlins fans barely number in the dozens. The plight of Marlins fans is a loud mouthed manager who sent Fidel Castro a friend request and “liked” despotism on Facebook. And on top of that, Washington fans have had to live next door to that red-assed bastard Peter Angelos.

      Miami has 2 World Series wins in 15 years and you talk about suffering? You suffer from apathy and an idiot owner and that’s basically it.

  19. bauman007 - Aug 13, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    The other thing that bothers me is imagine being someone like Ryan Zimmerman. You’ve played with this terrible franchise and now finally you’re competitive yet this could be your best shot at a world series and the GM says “sorry guys Strasburg is more important than your shot at a world series this year”. Why should anyone else on the team play hard in September and the playoffs, there’s always next year!

  20. dannythebisforbeast - Aug 13, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    I will not read any previous comments by any Nats fan who is Ok with this is an idiot

    You will not be in playoffs every year, you won’t win without him. WHAT IS THE POINT OF WINNING THE DIVISION? One and done and start all over next year? That crazy talk

  21. marc127 - Aug 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Why pitch him at all during the regular season then if you aren’t going to use him in the post season? Logic tells me that your best pitcher should be used in the post season to help give your team the best chance to win. By shutting him down in the postseason the Nationals are basically throwing in the towel on the postseason. Shut him down now and give him a start every 6th or 7th day so he doesn’t get rusty but also doesn’t get overworked. That way you have him for the postseason ready to go.

  22. onbucky96 - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    On behalf of the Red Sox Nation, the Evil Empire, and the other usual suspects, thank you Nationals for protecting our future investment in Mr. Strasburg when he enters free angency in 2017.

  23. sumerduckman - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    The job of the team’s GM is to give the manager the players to win NOW, and win in the future.

    If said GM takes away one of the primary players from that manager, for any reason, he should insure/obtain a like player either from the minors, or by trade. That’s his job.

    Mr. Rizzo has known for a while that HE would limit Strasburg’s innings.Why then was he not active at the trade deadline for an A list pitcher ?

    If Rizzo sits Strasburg, and tries to pawn off a John Lannon or Zach Duke as a replacement for Davey Johnson to try and win the NL east or postseason, Rizzo should be fired.

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