Well, it’s official. Washington Nationals manager, Davey Johnson, has told right-handed pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg that he has two or three more starts. Adam Kilgore, of the Washington Post, quoted Johnson:
He’s probably got two or three. I said something to him on the
plane last night – ‘You got a few more to go.’ So he doesn’t think going out there thinking that, ‘This may be my last one.’ And no, I’m not going to drag it out and give him seven days between starts, either.
This is great news for everyone who wants to see Stephen Strasburg hit free agency and terrible news for the fans of the Washington Nationals.
Arm injury or not, this is Scott Boras protecting his client. This is the anti-good-for-baseball move that Scott Boras continues to bring along with his money-hungry vendetta as the sport’s devil agent.
Stephen Strasburg will hit free agency in 2017. Protecting his surgically repaired elbow for that moment is the only reason that Strasburg is getting shut down, and it is the only true concern that Boras has for Strasburg.
Stephen Strasburg was a relief pitcher in his first year, 2007, at San Diego State. He went on to pitch 98.1 innings in his sophomore and 109 innings in his junior season. He went on to pitch 123.1 innings in 2010, his first professional season, before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament on August 27 of that year.
With 150.1 innings in 2012 to date, Stephen Strasburg would compile between 10 and 18 innings over two to three more starts. If he finishes between 160 and 170 innings, who is to say that Strasburg won’t be shut down at 200 innings in 2013?
If the Nationals are going to have to limit his introduction to pitching every fifth day over the course of a 162-game season, will Boras try to make the Nationals be careful with his precious gem next season, too?
Lets face it, if Stephen Strasburg is healthy when he reaches free agency, he will be 28 years old and will be the biggest free agent signing to hit the open market. A bidding war would occur and, while the Washington Nationals seem to have a lot of cash, you have to wonder how crazy the New Yorks, Boston’s, and Los Angeles’ of the world will go to sign the star.
So, the question is…why are the Washington Nationals protecting the arm of a pitcher who could bring them a world championship as early as this season, who probably will just be leaving town at the first chance he gets due to his agent?
Certainly, you want to protect the commodity that you possess while you actually possess him, but why should they worry about his long-term health and care if he isn’t locked up for the next ten years?
Scott Boras is protecting his client, his bank account, and the value of free agency. Stephen Strasburg’s fire and determination should be questioned if he agrees with being shut down. He is the ace of a first place team. His first place team has the talent to win right now and will only get better with further skill advancement of himself, outfielder Bryce Harper, and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the coming years.
The Nationals need to worry about achieving at the highest level possible. If they don’t go for it right now, who is to say that Strasburg’s shoulder doesn’t pop next year?
Mark Mulder threw 164 innings in his first season with the Oakland A’s over 29 starts, including his two starts in the minor leagues. He went on to throw 849 innings over the next four years before he became too expensive and was traded to St. Louis and his shoulder ended up looking like a butcher shop.
Mark Prior was babied in 2002, tossing 167.2 innings in his first professional season. Remember all of those perfect mechanics and how dominant he was supposed to be?Even protecting the asset by limiting innings didn’t protect Mulder or Prior in the long run.
Nothing says that shutting down a pitcher will save his elbow or shoulder. Pitching is a violent act, and when a pitcher throws 98 miles-per-hour over 100 pitches and 28 to 34 starts in a season, it is only natural that there is some sort of tearing and fraying that goes on in his joints. Stephen Strasburg has amazing stuff and could be one of the greatest pitchers of this generation; however, Stephen Strasburg is just like every other pitcher…an injury-risk with the potential to flame out.
The Nationals have everything to gain by keeping him in the rotation and nothing to lose; however, by taking him out of the rotation, they are, essentially, tossing in the towel on a potential World Series appearance.