LISTEN: Nationals GM adamant Strasburg too sick to pitch hours before things changed

The Nationals' backs are against the wall in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs, trailing two games to one. With the rainout on Tuesday and Game 4 being pushed back to Wednesday, the Game 1 starters were now available on normal (four days') rest. Controversy ensued with Nats manager Dusty Baker announced Tanner Roark would still start Game 4. Then he said Strasburg was "under the weather." 

Now reports indicate that Strasburg is going to try and pitch after all. 

Interestingly, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was on CBS affiliate 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies Wednesday morning and he adamantly defended the initial move and discussed how sick Strasburg was. 

Full audio:

Some of the highlights: 

"[Strasburg] looked bad, looked under the weather, looked sick. Threw his bullpen and was just very, very depleted and no energy. He was just toasted really, really fast in the bullpen. Had no endurance."

"To us, that's the biggest key. He didn't improve and got worse yesterday, as far as how he was feeling, and we just decided to go with a guy that has won 15, 16 and 13 games in the big leagues for us and is a reliable starter."

"We'd rather have Strasburg on full five days' rest at 100 percent, feeling great, but that's not the case. We feel that with Tanner pitching the way he's pitching — at full-go, 100 percent, prepared and focused and set to pitch this game throughout the playoffs — we feel that's our best chance to win Game 4 and that's who we're going with."


"[Strasburg] wanted to pitch. What he told [pitching coach] Mike Maddux was, he said he'd give us everything he has. He said he's not sure how much that is and how long he can go. And that's the decision we made as a unit, like we always make all these decisions, that we're going to do what's best for the team."

"This isn't about Stephen Strasburg pitching through adversity," he clarified. "This is about winning Game 4 of the playoffs, and we feel with Tanner Roark at 100 percent, on full rest, and full preparation to pitch Game 4 from the beginning of the playoffs, he gives us a better chance than a depleted, sick Stephen Strasburg."


"Hey. Fellas. Fellas. Fellas. We're gonna pitch the guy that gives us the best chance to win Game 4 and in our opinion -- you may differ, but you have no credibility in this, because you don't know what Stras was like, what he looked like, what he feels like, what Roark is like and how he's prepared for this."


"We made a decision that we want 100-percent Tanner Roark -- who wins 15, 16 and 13 games over the three years he was a starter -- over a depleted Stephen Strasburg. Asked and answered. How many times do you want to go through it?" 

OK, so then what changed? He started to sound pretty aggravated that some people just couldn't understand the Nationals were doing the 100 percent correct thing. He was adamant that Roark gave them the best chance to win.

Just a few hours later, reports surfaced that there was a chance Strasburg was going to take the ball. If Rizzo was so sure that Roark gave them the better chance, why change? 

We'll likely not know the full truth any time soon, but we now gear up for Game 4 -- now even more dramatic than a simple do-or-die game for the Nationals. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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