Remember when John Smoltz said that, if he were Stephen Strasburg, he would fake an injury to extend his season? That’s just one of the fun scenarios people have imagined in an effort to keep Strasburg going into the playoffs. Among them
* Turn Strasburg into the fifth starter.
* Go with a six-man rotation.
* Skip the occasional Strasburg start.
* Only allow Strasburg to pitch four or five innings per start.
* Use Strasburg in relief.
* Give him a two-week mental health break.
* Cryogenically freeze him for 10-14 days.
* Create an animatronic Strasburg to fill in for the real thing until the playoffs begin.
And so on and so forth.
The smart people, like Thomas Boswell, would tell you that there is a problem with every single one of these scenarios, possibly excluding the last one, and that you just have to keep everything as normal as possible and then see where you are.
And that, evidently, is Davey Johnson’s position.
This long passage come from ESPN New York’s Johnette Howard, after the Nats’ recent sweep of the Mets. A
bear beat writer started this by asking about possibly spacing out Strasburg’s starts.
“NAH, I’m not going to get into any of that spacing CRAP!” Johnson interrupted, his voice suddenly rising. “I’m not discussing anymore what’s happening in a month! I know people are interested, but it’s something that’s seven, eight starts from now. Why even talk about it, you know?”
But what if you shut him down for a period of time now, the same reporter persisted a few minutes later, so you could have Strasburg back for the postseason?
“No — no!” Johnson said. “You just don’t do that. If you’re trying to take care of an arm, you don’t shut somebody down and then crank ‘em back up. What we’re trying to do is have him for a long time. So jockeying him around, putting him in as the fourth starter, missing starts — that’s not good for THAT.”
Well then, how about using Strasburg only in relief as the Yankees once did with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to keep them alive for the postseason?
“No possibility — no possibility,” Johnson said, crossing his arms now.So. Um. Yeah. I don’t have any other ideas, really. Unless the animatronic Strasburg thing is actually on the table.
Johnson also volunteered the pending shutdown as a reason Strasburg hasn’t gone longer into games this season. This was the manager, after Wednesday’s win, via MASNSports.com.
“There was a lot left in the tank there today, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “I mean, when he pitches like that, he’s gonna throw a lot of complete games. Of course I’ve been short on his innings this year because we’re shutting him down, but I’ve talked to him about it....He had plenty left. But this is kind of a strange year, so I’m gonna protect him as much as I can and enable him to go as far as he can.”