After a brief and pleasing respite from radio interviews about Stephen Strasburg’s Shutdown, gird yourself. They’re back.
With Jordan Zimmermann getting shelled in St. Louis, and the Nats’ season now in the hands of Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, Strasburg Talk is back. ESPN was running some sort of Strasburg content in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday. I was talking about Strasburg on Post Sports Live. Svrluga was writing about Strasburg in his Nats rotation piece. And former Braves pitching coach and longtime Strasburg Shutdown critic Leo Mazzone was on 590 The Fan in St. Louis, flailing away. (Audio here.)
“Here’s what you’ve got in the playoffs: You always have two starters,” Mazzone said, before he was asked a single Strasburg question. “Every team has two great starters that are gonna knock heads. But losing Strasburg changes everything in the No. 3 and No. 4 hole. That’s what you’ve got to look at. And basically I think it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen a Major League team do in my entire career, and I hope they pay the price for it. Because that’s just not right.”
The hosts agreed, saying the Nats could have found another way to limit Strasburg’s innings besides a September Shutdown.
“Well, that’s why you shouldn’t pop your gums early, before the season starts,” Mazzone then said. “If you’ve got a plan, don’t give it away. I mean, you could actually taken care of that by, without saying anything prior to his last start. Say his arm’s bothering him, we need to shut him down a little bit. You could have done that many different ways, not just become arrogant and come out and say, Well this is what we’re doing. Basically, I guess they didn’t figure on winning.”
Then Mazzone was asked what message the Shutdown sent to the rest of the Nats.
“I think it’s a lousy message that you send to your team, it’s a lousy message that you send to your fans,” he said. “And I think it’s not a health issue. There was nothing wrong with Strasburg when they shut him down. He was extremely strong at that point in the season. And there’s no guarantees…..He could go out next year, first game of Spring Training, and there’s no guarantee he’s not gonna blow out. But I’m gonna tell you what. It isn’t the innings pitched that takes care of arm problems. That has nothing to do with it. It’s how you throw a baseball, period.”
The segment then went on its merry way, with breakdowns of the other Major League series and a discussion of the pitching match-ups in Game 3 and Game 4. But before he hung up, Mazzone had one final thought.
“Make sure you beat Washington, okay?” he told the hosts. “Because they did a bad thing when they took that starting pitcher out.”