Surprisingly enough, the Washington Nationals have the best record in all of Major League Baseball. While many, like myself, thought the Nationals’ success in the first half would eventually fall off and they would end up being another team to fade in the second half, they have not. And their success is largely due to their ace starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg is coming off Tommy John surgery and Nationals’ management has said since early in the season that they would tightly limit the number of innings he would be allowed to pitch this season. My guess is, the management did not forsee the team being the best team in the majors and a leading World Series contender with just a few weeks left. Now they are faced with the decision to bench their best pitcher or let him finish out the season at the risk of causing another injury and losing him indefinitely. It’s the old debate about short-term gain vs. long-term loss.
Several of Strasburg’s teammates have come out and expressed their disagreement with management’s decision to bench Strasburg. And I can understand why players, who see a serious chance to make their first World Series, would want to see their most dominant pitcher on the mound down the stretch. I also understand Nationals’ management wanting to protect and nurture their prize All-Star. Strasburg has the potential to be a top pitcher in the league for years to come, if the team is careful not to over pitch him and keep him relatively injury free. That might mean several more successful seasons for the Washington franchise who is boasting a young, talented lineup headlined, not only by Strasburg, but rookie Bryce Harper.
So, what to do? I’m not sure in this case. I’m usually a long-term guy, but I also understand the desire to make the playoffs and win a World Series. The Nationals’ management cannot see the future and unforeseen circumstances could put them in a position where they never have another chance to get there. But, like I said, this is also a team that has the potential to be very good for several years. One thing that could derail that would be a career ending injury to Strasburg. I guess my take is, I’m just glad I don’t have to make this decision.