|The eventual shut-down of Strasburg is on the minds of everyone, even his teammates. (Getty Images)|
Considering we're in the middle of August, Stephen Strasburg has thrown 133 1/3 innings and the Nationals sport the best record in baseball, things are about to get real. That is, when Strasburg's looming shutdown actually occurs. The conversation on whether this is a good idea has been taking place all season, but those discussions have intensified as the season has progressed. And those talks aren't limited to fans and media.
|More Strasburg/Nats coverage|
“I get their side,” Adam LaRoche said (Washington Post). “But our side is, the playoffs aren't guaranteed. You don't want to shut your best guy down -- or one of your best guys, because we've got a bunch of them -- if you're never going to go back there. If I knew for the next two or three years we're going to go back, then it's probably an easy decision."
"Are we going to pout about it?" LaRoche continued (Washington Post). "No. We're not going to go yell at Rizzo or [manager Davey Johnson]. No, it is what it is. It'll be frustrating, but apparently we're going to have to deal with it, because I think they've made up their minds.”
Obviously the players -- and many fans -- will have the same mindset as LaRoche, because it's an emotional, "in the moment" type feeling. General manager Mike Rizzo is trying to balance the present and the future. Unless the Nats go on to win the World Series after Strasburg's shutdown, Rizzo is in a no-win situation.
Imagine if Strasburg is shut down as planned and the Nats fizzle in the first round of the playoffs -- and then they don't go back for the rest of Strasburg's career (which is doubtful, by the way). Rizzo will forever be blamed for ruining the chance at a ring in 2012.
Imagine if Rizzo lets Strasburg loose and the ace pitches upwards of 225 innings between the regular season and the playoffs, and then blows out his arm. This time around, he's unable to return to form. Now Rizzo is blamed for wrecking the young talent that was set to be an elite pitcher for a decade-plus.
The positive in the situation is that the Nats will only need four starting pitchers in the playoffs. With Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, they aren't exactly going in with the rotation as a weakness, as LaRoche alluded to in his quote.