Even with Washington’s first postseason baseball since 1933 in range, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo never felt a shred of regret about his decision to shut down Strasburg. He believes in his plan as staunchly now, with Strasburg sitting at 1561
3 innings, as he did when he made it, back before the first spring training ball had been thrown.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Rizzo said. “The plan was in place. It couldn’t have gone any better. He’s pitched extremely well. A couple more starts under his belt, it’ll really lay a solid foundation for 2013 for him. We’re going to take the ball and run with it and he’s going to win a lot of games for us.
“Just because we’re in a different position in the standings, we’re not going to forego my philosophy of player development and keeping pitchers healthy. We’re being consistent with it throughout.”
Strasburg all season has brushed off questions about his innings limit, which the Nationals prescribed for his first full season after Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. After he dominated the Cardinals, Strasburg continued to keep his thoughts to himself.
“I’m just focused on the next start,” Strasburg said. “That’s all I can really focus on right now. We’re going to have to have a sit-down and talk here soon. . . . I just don’t have anything to say. I’m in it with these guys, and we still got a long way to go. But I’m going to fight with them until the end.”
When the Nationals sit down and talk to Strasburg, it will be a one-way conversation. Teammates have assumed since last year Strasburg will be devastated. “They’re going to have to clean his locker out,” reliever Drew Storen said last month. “They’re going to have to take all his gloves away.” But Rizzo will not be swayed by Strasburg’s stance.
“I don’t think he’s going to fight me on it,” Rizzo said. “I know he’s going to be unhappy about it. He’s an ultimate competitor. But we’ve taken that out of his hands. This is a developmental decision. It ultimately falls on the doorstep of the general manager. And we’ve made it — made it five months ago. And we’re going to stick to it.”
Sunday afternoon, Strasburg showed why he his innings limit has created an unyielding controversy: because he is one of the most dominant forces in baseball. He bounced back from his worst start this season and shut out the Cardinals for six innings, striking out nine to bring his league-leading total to 195 and his ERA to 2.94, best in the rotation.