The Strasburg Shutdown debate is reaching a new volume of outrage every day. And it’s becoming clear that perhaps only one person feels passionately that the Nats are doing the right thing.
That would be Mike Rizzo, who told Thomas Boswell that even his dad disagrees with him.
Well, here’s another baseball lifer who disagrees with him: longtime Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone. And he disagrees loudly.
“I think it’s absolutely pathetic, to be honest with you,” Mazzone, now a sports-radio host, told ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Wednesday morning. “If I’m Strasburg, here’s what I’m saying, I’m saying you take the ball away from me and I’ll save my arm for some other team to pitch for.
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Mazzone continued. “I think that it’s been 79 years since Washington’s gone to a postseason. And you know what, you think of the Adam LaRoches of the world. These guys have a shot, they have a legitimate shot — with the best rotation in baseball with Strasburg in it — to go to the World Series. And to shut this down like this is absolutely ridiculous.
“And the reason I say that, I’ve got the experience. Youngsters like Steve Avery when he was 21 taking us to a World Series with a group of kids, with Smoltz and Glavine and Avery and Pete Smith and one veteran guy, Leibrandt. Prior to Maddux in ’93 — in ’91 and ’92 — these guys all pitched 200-plus innings. Ok? And everybody had long careers.
“And here’s what’s going on in baseball: If you look at the DLs, and you look at the Tommy John, this system is not working. It really is not. So it’s an absolute joke to me. Because you know what, we’ll put our track record in our careers — the 18 years that we made these runs — of health and pitchers against anybody in the history of the game.”
For the record, in ‘91 and ‘92 Avery pitched 210 and 233 innings. Smoltz pitched 229 and 246 innings. Glavine pitched 246 and 225 innings. Of course, none were coming off Tommy John surgery.
And so Mazzone was then asked about the argument that over-using Strasburg this season could jeopardize his future.
“I don’t agree with it one bit, to be honest with you,” Mazzone said. “And the reason why is because I’ve got the experience going through postseasons for 14 years in a row, most of those years with the same guys, to where the starting pitchers for the Atlanta Braves had more innings in the postseason than a lot of pitchers had during the regular season over their careers.
“We had a saying in Atlanta, we only had one goal with our starting pitchers: When it’s your turn, you go to the post, and the rest will take care of itself. We never gave ‘em innings [limits]. We never gave ‘em pitch counts. We never gave ‘em anything other than go to the post when it’s your turn, and the rest will take care of itself.
“What we did was everything we could do to help that along. And here’s a good point: as a pitching coach I used to tell them look, my longevity’s only as good as yours. So why would I come up with a philosophy or a program that would hurt me? Because I’m counting on you.
“So what we would do is throw them more often with less exertion. I had the guys go down there a couple times between starts, I had the relievers come over and throw a little bit prior to the game to prepare for tonight’s game instead of the usual thing, you can’t throw, you might get in tonight.
“You go through all these types of programs, because you have to teach pitchers — Strasburg included — that you can make the ball do something without maxing out your effort. That’s how your arm injury risk goes down, if you can do that... It’s based on common sense, the control of the effort by a coach. And if a coach can’t do that, they shouldn’t be a pitching coach. It’s based on common sense, it’s not based on innings pitched. It’s how you throw the baseball. Period.”
Who will be the next baseball lifer to rip the Nats? All guesses welcome.
Rick Sutcliffe has a plan for Strasburg
Dennis Eckersley says the Nats have to pitch Strasburg
Stephen A. Smith says it’s disgraceful
Kevin Millar asks the Nats to look Strasburg in the eyes
Jake Peavy says it blows his mind