The man who pioneered the procedure that was done on Strasburg’s elbow would have definitely endorsed Rizzo’s plan.
In 1974, renowned surgeon Frank Jobe first performed the career-saving surgery on former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John. On a long flight to spring training years ago, Jobe told me the worst thing a team could do is push a pitcher until his second full year after surgery. “The body just isn’t ready” until then, he said to me then.
Rizzo is reading from the book of Jobe.
“I love the fact that the fans have passion about us and they’re talking about us and arguing about us on the radio. That’s great,” Rizzo said. “It’s the so-called experts, who portray themselves as experts because they pitched in the big leagues, who have all their [uniformed] opinions.”
No amount of chatter will change the Nationals’ approach.
Strasburg won’t remain in the rotation for the entire season. It’s as much a lock as the seasons changing.
“We just aren’t going to pull some number out of thin air,” Rizzo said. “It’s all based on the data, the background and the research . . . to calculate what we feel comfortable with.
“It’s all going to come down to what my eyes and the information tell me. Sure, we’re going to keep taking a lot of heat for it. I understand that. And hey, it’s definitely not an easy decision. It’s the right thing to do. . . but it’s still tough.”
Acquiring Greinke could take much of the sting out of watching Strasburg sit.
If the Nationals got him at the deadline, they would have potentially a month, if not more, of a rotation with Greinke, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson. It’s sick just writing that.
With a Gonzalez-Greinke-Zimmermann playoff rotation, and Jackson bolstering the bullpen, the Nationals would be well-armed for a deep October run. Obviously, Greinke’s presence could lift the whole staff.
Some Nationals observers would argue that pursuing another game-changing starter would be short-sighted because the club ranks only 24th in the 30-team league in run production. But Ryan Zimmerman is rolling after the best cortisone shot in history. Michael Morse seems to have rediscovered his power, 19-year-old phemom Bryce Harper will have even better days ahead of him and Jayson Werth should be back before the end of the month.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be easy to get Greinke. But the Nationals have been surprising all season. There’s no reason to think they’ll stop now.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/reid