Stephen Strasburg shutdown begins now, manager Davey Johnson says

David Brown
Big League Stew

The Stephen Strasburg Shutdown will begin one start early. He won't make another appearance, he's done for the season, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced Saturday morning. (And for the last time, no playoffs!) Here's his final stat line: 15-6 record, 159 1/3 innings, 136 hits, 48 walks, 197 strikeouts.

Reporter Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has the "Why?" and writes:

"The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable," Johnson said. "I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change."

Johnson said Strasburg was "emotional" about the decision.

"I know he's been struggling with it for weeks," Johnson said. "I know he doesn't sleep good thinking about it. Shoot, I've heard so much advice from every ex-pitcher, every guru on the matter."

The "media hype?" Aw, c'mon, Davey.

The Nationals organization — GM Mike Rizzo, Johnson and others — not anyone in the media, made the decision to shut down Strasburg as a precaution more than two years after he had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. The Nats got Strasburg's agent and surgeon to sign off on the idea, but Strasburg obviously never liked it. It's possible the mental strain of being shut down is bothering Strasburg, but it's probably due more to not being allowed to pitch in the coming playoffs. That's on the Nationals. They'll have to live with it.

Here's a complete transcript of Johnson's press conference.

Which other organizations do this with their pitchers? Are the Cardinals shutting down Adam Wainwright, for example? He didn't pitch at all in 2011, but he's at 173 innings and counting. There's plenty of reason to question the Nationals here — though it doesn't mean they're wrong. Still, the Nats should just stand by their decision and not assign blame anywhere — much less to the media. Why not blame the fans in the stands? What nonsense. Heck, the press in Washington has given a huge benefit of the doubt to the Nationals for their shutdown plan.

[Also: Yankees accustomed to pennant races, but for Orioles this kind of pressure is unfamiliar]

The Nationals say they decided a year ago August that Strasburg's season would be limited to a certain amount of innings — somewhere between 160 and 180 — following the program used previously with another of their pitchers, Jordan Zimmermann, who also was recovering from Tommy John. Though everyone seemed to know this was coming for Strasburg, the Nats didn't actually break the news to him until recently because — they said — they didn't want him to concern himself too much with the impending end of his season. Well, how'd that work out?

It seems they've created a problem rather than solving one.

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