“Obviously, I don’t like it,” said DeRosa, a key piece of the clubhouse culture. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game. The way we’re going, and to not have him, is going to be difficult. That being said, we kind of knew it in spring training. I thought Davey answered it great — people a lot smarter than us are making this decision. We really don’t have any control over it. But yeah, it’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt, there’s no doubt. If I had my vote, I’d vote he pitches. But I don’t get that vote.”
DeRosa spoke with a smile and not a scowl, resigned but not bitter. The Nationals have been steeled to play without Strasburg by their experience this season. They suffered a season-ending injury to catcher Wilson Ramos and other significant injuries to Werth, all-star shortstop Ian Desmond, Michel Morse and Drew Storen. Strasburg’s absence will be one more obstacle.
“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” Werth said. “It’s going to happen whether we like it or not. That’s part of the protocol. We’re just going to have to do what we’ve been doing all year, and that’s overcome. Guys have been out of the lineup, been injured, in and out. Other guys have picked up.
“Whatever, you know? We’ll be fine. I like our pitching, with or without Stras. Obviously, I like it better with. But we’ll be all right. I think we’ll be great. Either way, you just got to hit.”
Of course, the Nationals are not under the impression that they have won because they missed crucial players. They won despite the losses, and they will hope to do the same without Strasburg.
“Look at Cincinnati,” DeRosa said. “They lost Joey Votto and went on one of their best streaks. It doesn’t mean they didn’t miss Joey Votto. It just kind of fell into place that way. Maybe he gets shut down and we go on another winning streak. Who knows? But if you ask any team to pull their best pitcher down the stretch, it’s going to have a huge detriment.”
Move has precedents
Some Nationals worry about how the limit will affect Strasburg, an ultra-competitive personality. At the all-star break, Strasburg said the Nationals would have to “rip the ball out of my hands” if they want to shut him down. The mentality does not surprise his teammates.
“They’re going to have to clean his locker out,” Storen said. “They’re going to have to take all his gloves away. That’s the kind of guy of he is.”
The Nationals are restricting Strasburg with his future in mind, to ensure his best chance at a full career and many postseasons to come. But a shot at the World Series, veterans know, can be sometimes a once-in-a-career proposition.
“I just understand how hard it is to get there,” LaRoche said. “We’ve see good teams every year, teams who spend a ton of money, don’t get in. So it’s tough. Hopefully it doesn’t matter. Hopefully they shut him down and Stras has a chance to win two or three World Series. I would hate for this to be his chance, and then 12 years from now him not ever go back in the postseason again.”