As Archie Bunker would say, stifle. There is nothing to debate. It’s a done deal. Sometime soon, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo — you know, the guy who put together the team that has put together the best record in baseball — will tell Strasburg to have a seat, and that will be that. This is no surprise move, no sneaky ploy. No one was misled by management into buying tickets for starts that won’t happen. Strasburg has been on an innings count since the day he signed. It was adjusted the day he underwent Tommy John surgery. It’s not a hard and fast number, but it will hover between 160 and 180 innings, probably. Any fan who feels tricked or lied to or misled hasn’t been paying attention.
It’s a rare GM who tells his star athlete, and you and me, exactly what he’s going to do, and then does it. Think about that. Don’t we all need a little more honesty in our lives? So when the GM tells you from the get-go, nearly two years ago now, that his star pitcher is going to be on a count, and that it’s not going to matter what the situation is, and when he repeats that over and over, takes full responsibility for that decision and makes sure it’s clear that the manager and owner get no blame for it, and he never wavers, you ought to be thinking, “Hey, this guy is perhaps not a giant liar,” not, “What an idiot! I have a much better solution.”
Because you don’t.
I’ve heard some doozies. We all have. Shutting him down for a month (say, August) so he can pitch in October was perhaps the most ludicrous, although it’s a tough scale. Skipping starts might work with a more seasoned pitcher, but Strasburg, remember, had very few major league starts going into this season. Anything that messes with a pitcher’s timing and routine is not good for that pitcher’s long-term development.
“There’s not going to be a whole lot of tinkering going on,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to run him out there until his innings are gone and then stop him from pitching.
“He’s a young pitcher that’s still learning how to pitch in the big leagues. I think it’s unfair for him to get him ramped up in spring training, start the season on a regular rotation then shut him down or skip him. We’re going to make him comfortable — regular rotation, regular rest. I think we’re deep enough that we can do that. We want to give him the best opportunity to get him into the rhythm of being a major league pitcher.”
Was this a top-secret club memo? No, it was something Rizzo said. To reporters. During spring training. In February.