Jayson Werth, one of the few Nationals who knows from experience how to win in October, stood at his locker yesterday afternoon and listened as a reporter told him the news of day: Davey Johnson had just said Stephen Strasburg would make his final start Sept. 12.
Werth pulled his cell phone from his pocket and looked at the date. “Two starts?” he asked.
Two starts. Werth though for a moment, and then delivered one of the more thoughtful, level-headed takes about the Strasburg shutdown any player has shared.
“I don’t really have a reaction,” Werth said. “We’ve all known it’s been coming since last year when the decision was made for him to pitch last year. They wanted him to pitch last year so he had a base of innings, so that for next year he could get to that 160-ish innings-pitched limit. I questioned last year if it was what we wanted to do and have him throwing him so early or whatever. That was the answer I got: If he doesn’t pitch this year than he’s not going to be available to pitch X amount of innings next year; he’s only going to pitch whatever.
“I’ve known this is the way it’s been since last year, like I said. He had like what, 40 innings last year, so he could get to the 160 level this year. If he didn’t pitch last year – which I thought was awful early coming off Tommy John, but the doctors and the powers that be said it was fine, and he pitched and got the limit so that this year he could get to the 160, 180 mark.
“So I have no reaction. This has gone on all season. People have been talking about this the whole year since his season begun. I don’t know why everyone was so surprised. This has been the protocol for two years now. I mean, it’s real easy for people not in the organization and not on this team to point fingers and call people names and say that this is what should happen and this is what shouldn’t happen. But the bottom line is, this is our guy on our team. And they’re doing what’s right for him and what’s right for our club long term. And I think it’s great.”