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Posted at 02:47 PM ET, 08/20/2012

Boswell: Nats’ postseason staff without Strasburg would still be very good


(Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)
Tom Boswell entertained a number of interesting Nats-related questions in his chat earlier today. This one seemed timely, in that it helped advance the Strasburg shutdown debate a bit.

The question:

Ok, let me ask - as yet another Stras/sitdown stand up fight fight fight, question. Given the success of the other pitchers, just how much does it hurt them to lose SS? On a related note - seems only Laroche would ‘suffer’ should the team fail - given his contract status and age. Concur?

Boswell’s answer:

Substituting Lannan for Strasburg in September is more of a potential problem than going to a three-man rotation (probably) in the DS and a four-man rotation in the NLCS. Lannan has had two fine clutch games for the Nats in MLB but a poor year in AAA -- until his last three (quality) starts, which have been typical Lannan. I think he’ll do fine. But if the 5-man rotation does poorly in September, the Nats could end up a wildcard not a division winner.

Once in the playoffs, the Nats have 5 of the top 13 fastball (velocity) pitchers in the N.L. They are not as good without Strasburg, but the difference is — in theory — not that great. However, there is no “normal” in October. Edwin Jackson, for example, has been off and on in post-season. He won a huge head-to-head with Cliff Lee that really turned the Phils-Cards division series last year. He had no-hit stuff against the Mets when he lost Saturday, allowing two hits and fanning 11 in seven innings. The Nats may be the only team with four starters — ex-Strasburg — with the stuff to go out and win back-to-back starts with dominant stuff in a seven-game series. Obviosuly Gio and Z’mann could, but so could Jackson and Detwiler. But will they? Or will first-time nerves be a problem.

There is just FAR too much weight put on the impact of Strasburg in the Nats post-season chances. A million teams have won, or at least gone to the Series, minus one “key star.” The Cards didn’t have Wainwright last year — a top three CY Young guy the previous two years. He was better, on paper, than Strasburg is now. The Cards won anyway.

The Reds — if they end up with best record in the NL and home field in an LDS — are a bigger problem for the Nats than subtracting Strasburg. They are a heck of a team. Winning the NL East and trying for best record in Sept — without Stras — will be a bigger problem than coping without him in October.

By Washington Post Sports  |  02:47 PM ET, 08/20/2012

 
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