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Scott Boras told ESPN that he had absolutely no input in the Washington Nationals' decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg for the year. The super agent says that while he had input in his client's plan and future when he was negotiating his contract, all decisions are made solely by the club once that contract is signed.
"Before players are under contract, I have a matter of control,'' Boras told ESPN.com. "I'll ask a team, 'How much is he going to pitch? What's your plan for him?' That type of thing. But once he's under contract, I don't say a word."
Many will find it tough to believe that Boras doesn't have a word in anything, let alone the future of a prized client in a playoff race, but he did make one outstanding point -- Mike Rizzo wouldn't care what he had to say. The Nationals GM isn't exactly the most easy-going of guys.
The Nationals decided to shut down Strasburg and put the long-term health of the pitcher over the short-term gains of having their ace in a playoff race. The Nationals did, not Scott Boras.
For more on the Nationals and the decision to shut down Strasburg, check out Federal Baseball.
Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg is 'not too happy' about being shut down for the remainder of the season.
Stephen Strasburg's season is over, Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced Saturday. While the decision to limit Strasburg's innings this season was made to reduce the physical stress on his surgically-repaired arm, Johnson revealed that the timing to shut Strasburg down immediately was made after the young ace appeared to struggle mentally in his start Friday.
"If you're not there 100 percent mentally -- I mean, he's a gifted athlete. His velocity could still be there," Johnson said, according to the Washington Post. "I don't see the crispness. I don't see the ball jumping out of his hand. It's more, I'm a firm believer this game is 90-95 percent mental. He's only human. I don't know how anybody can be totally concentrating on the job at hand and media hype to this thing. I think we would be risking more sending him back out."
Strasburg allowed two home runs in just three innings on Friday, giving up five hits with two walks. He finishes the season with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 159 ⅓ innings.
"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 Nationals lead the Atlanta Braves by 6 ½ games in the National League East.
That didn’t take long. Stephen Strasburg had a bad outing Friday night, and after the game Nationals manager Davey Johnson made some cryptic remarks that hinted the short outing might get Strasburg another start beyond his scheduled final one of the year September 12 against the Mets.
Johnson apparently changed his mind after sleeping on it:
Davey just announced Strasburg shutdown effective immediately
— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) September 8, 2012
As of this writing, Strasburg was still listed on the Nationals website probable pitcher page as being the starter September 12 against the Mets’ R.A. Dickey. (Which would be an awesome matchup to watch, incidentally.)
But after this announcement, that matchup won’t happen. There's apparently nothing physically wrong with Strasburg:
Strasburg thus completes his season with a 15-6 record, a 3.16 ERA and 1.155 WHIP in 28 starts covering 159⅓ innings -- thus, just short of qualifying for the ERA title.
So the biggest takeaway from a wild, 9-7 loss proved to be the manner in which Strasburg’s 2012 D.C. finale played out and the manner in which the right-hander, his manager and others tried to explain what exactly happened.
“To be honest with you, I think he was thinking too much about the decision of what we were going to shut him down,” Davey Johnson said. “And he kind wore it like it. … I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shutdown. Just he way I read it.”
Strasburg denied it affected him, saying he just had a bad outing, but this raises the question: with so few innings thrown by him Friday, could he get another start after the 12th?
Strasburg has been slated to make his final start of the season Wednesday in New York. Would Friday’s abbreviated outing make the Nationals reconsider the plan at all?
“It might,” Johnson said in highly cryptic fashion.
Stephen Strasburg isn't happy with the Nationals' decision to sit him down. But how unhappy should he really get?
It's hard to imagine that Stephen Strasburg was going to be happy with the decision by the Washington Nationals to shut him down regardless if the team made the playoffs. But he's been quiet on the subject. Understandably so, as it's still controversial with Nationals fans and baseball fans in general, but so far we haven't heard how he really feels about the decision.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, though, gives us our first glimpse at how Strasburg feels. From 106.7 The Fan in DC, by way of Sports Radio Interviews:
"Well Stephen Strasburg is an ultra competitor. He’s not happy with the decision. He thinks he can continue to contribute to the ball club and that type of thing. He expressed his opposition to it and we just tried to explain to him what our thinking was and gave him our rationale and at the end of the day I think he is accepting of our decision. He disagrees with it."
The Nationals have a chance at a Bryce Harper/Strasburg marketing duo that will last for a decade, but only if they're careful. They also have the chance to go deep into the playoffs this season, and Strasburg would likely help those efforts. We'll know which path is right only in retrospect, but at least we can pretend that we had the right answer from the start.
Not the kind of insurance that you're probably thinking. This isn't about John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang eating innings when Stephen Strasburg is shut down. We're talking actual insurance, like with dues and adjustors and such. And the Nationals have insurance on Strasburg's contract and signing bonus, which is a completely normal and expected thing. It might also be a factor in the Nationals' decision to shut him down. The Washington Post first had a writeup to a fascinating interview with Scott Boras:
"The protocol called for this range of innings, and we would then proceed with an increased amount of innings in 2013," (Boras) continued. "Everyone had notice of this. Everyone was given this. And to violate the protocol is something that ranges — in the opinion of medical experts — into risk factors....I pay very close attention to protocols given by physicians, particularly for players who have had operative procedures early in their career."
Boras mentioned legal ramifications, which sent people a-scurrying to conclusions. But he was likely talking about the insurance aspect, which the Post digs into later:
Boras had insisted the insurance policy for Strasburg’s contract could be voided if he pitches against medical advice and injured himself. Representatives from multiple specialty insurance companies backed the claim.
"Absolutely, it does" sound feasible, said Colin Fairlie, a vice president at Sutton Special Risk. "And frankly, I wouldn’t think that that would happen very often. What do you have a medical staff for if you’re not going to depend on their advice?
It's a tangled web without any easy answers, and while the insurance isn't the main (or even a primary) factor in the decision, it's still a multi-million-dollar factor.
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg met with general manager Mike Rizzo, head coach Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty on Monday morning where the group collectively informed Strasburg that he would be making two more starts in 2012.
Prior to that meeting, the club purposely gave the pitcher vague information about the specifics of his shutdown date (other than the fact that they would be shutting him down at some point), in order to keep his mind off the amount of innings he had left in his season.
While Strasburg will accept the decision, he has been fairly vocal in his desire to keep playing.
"It's no secret that Stras is an intense competitor, wants to be here, wants to be contributing, wants to be helping," Johnson said. "And I'm sure it's probably eating him up more than anybody involved in this whole thing, because he wants to be here and help his teammates."
Despite the end of his season, the 24-year-old ace plans to continue to support his teammates in the stretch run.
"I'm in with these guys," he said. "We still have a long way to go. I'm going to fight with them to the end."
Strasburg got the start in the Nationals' 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Strasburg went six scoreless innings and gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out nine batters. Strasburg did not receive a decision in the game.
Strasburg, who is playing in his first full season following Tommy John surgery, is 15-6 on the season with a 2.94 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 156 1/3 innings. The nine strikeouts on Sunday gave Strasburg 311 strikeouts in his MLB career, which began in 2010.
How close? Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post quotes manager Davey Johnson:
With September arriving this weekend and Strasburg sitting at 150 1/3 innings, the Nationals ace’s season will end within a handful of starts. Johnson said he and the Nationals have “a pretty firm plan” in place for Strasburg’s season to end.
“He’s probably got two or three,” Johnson said. “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.”
Strasburg had a rough outing Tuesday against the Marlins, allowing nine hits and seven runs (five earned) in five innings. Many have weighed in on this issue, most saying the Nats are doing the right thing. And once it’s done, it’s done:
Johnson brushed off any possible blowback he would receive from Strasburg.
“I’m the one that puts his name on the lineup card,” Johnson said. “It ain’t happening after the innings limit.”
Will the Nats regret this in the postseason, presuming they continue on their present course and make it? Only time will tell.
You probably were not sitting at home today, wondering what Bill James thought about the Washington Nationals' decision to shut Stephen Strasburg down before the end of the season. But now that you know James has weighed in, you're kind of curious, right?
What does Bill James think? Pretty much what most of the non-frothing crowd thinks: He probably would have done it differently, but he understands why it's being done.
If it was me, I’d err on the side of caution. I don’t know that I would have done it exactly the way the Nationals did. Maybe I would have limited him to 80 pitches a start for the first half of the year, and then cut him loose late in the year, rather than the other way. But I think I would have erred on the side of caution, rather than risking another injury.
There's also a bit about some kid getting hosed by his dorm situation at a state school, but let's stick with Strasburg. As more and more people get used to the ideas that, no, the Nationals aren't messing around with the innings limit, and, yes, they'll even keep him out of the playoffs, this is probably going to be the majority view.
Maybe Strasburg starting his season in June would have been the best-case scenario, with the benefit of hindsight. But there aren't a lot of flags-fly-forever articles these days. Add James to the ledger of people who think the Nationals are being (mostly) reasonable.
Another country was heard from Thursday, as Dr. James Andrews offered some thoughts about the Nationals' handling of Stephen Strasburg this season. Does Andrews tell us anything we didn't already know?
The Washington Nationals have been taking all sorts of guff from fans around the league for their plan to shut down right-handed ace Stephen Strasburg a year after his Tommy John surgery. The Nationals haven't wavered; GM Mike Rizzo has sunglasses falling from the sky onto his face as he says the same thing over and over.
A couple of weeks ago, William Ladson tweeted the Nationals were likely to skip two or three of Strasburg's starts toward the end of the year. Via the Associated Press, manager Davey Johnson confirmed that initial report:
"I think it came out that with the off days we'd need another starter for I think two starts," Johnson said after talking with general manager Mike Rizzo. "I think two starts, might have been three."
The story has drawn national attention -- pun not intended, but I'm keeping it in and pointing it out -- because the Nationals have the best record in baseball and are likely to go to the playoffs, but they'll be without Strasburg, who has thrown 145 innings this season with a 2.85 ERA.
Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals' best pitcher, and they would like to keep it that way.
It does appear as if the Washington Nationals are going to shut down their best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, after he reaches a pre-determined inning limit. He won’t return for the postseason no matter what, according to GM Mike Rizzo.
This isn’t going over very well in the Nats’ clubhouse. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke to some Nats players; here’s one typical reaction:
"I get their side," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "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.
"From my side of it, I’m sure [Ryan Zimmerman], Jayson [Werth], [Mark DeRosa], guys who have been around a while, it’s tough to go out there and bust it every night, then turn around and have one of your best guys shut down. Are we going to pout about it? 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."
The Nats have the best record in the major leagues and look postseason-bound, barring a total collapse in September. Here’s why, writes Kilgore, the Nats could be all right even without Strasburg:
If Strasburg’s 43 earned runs allowed over 133⅓ innings were removed, the Nationals’ rotation would have a 3.30 ERA, still the best in the majors.
It’s a radical decision; if it works for the Nats, other teams might try the same thing.
If you're tired of the Stephen Strasburg innings saga, I empathize. It's a weird story that's being pounded into the ground. On the other hand, though, it's a unique story. A team is willing to harm their postseason chances to protect a franchise arm. That's amazing and different -- it deserves to be run into the ground. Beats the latest story about which members of the Red Sox are chronic non-flushers, and how that hurts team morale.
From the intrepid William Ladson, we have some indication about how much time Strasburg will miss because of a team-imposed innings limit:
Those would be September starts, ostensibly. And once Strasburg is shut down, he's down for good. There's no rebooting him in the event of an NLCS or World Series berth by the Nationals.
I'm wondering if the Nationals had to do it all over again, they would have had Strasburg start the season late rather than end it early. Probably. Well ... shoot.
We've heard a lot of things this season about Stephen Strasburg's innings limit, but one thing hasn't changed: If the Nationals are in the World Series, their ace won't be pitching for them.
The Washington Nationals are leading the National League East by 4½ games as of Thursday morning, and have the best record in the National League. Barring a complete collapse, they seem headed to the postseason for the first time since they moved to Washington (in fact, the first time since 1981, when they were the Montreal Expos).
The decision whether the National League East-leading Washington Nationals will shut down prized starter Stephen Strasburg has apparently been made. The when is all that remains.
General manager Mike Rizzo told ESPN on Wednesday that he alone will decide when Strasburg’s All-Star 2012 season will end and that it’s not necessarily at the 160-inning mark that has been talked about so often.
“There is no magic number,” Rizzo said. “It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won’t decide and ownership won’t decide. It will be the general manager and that’s me.”
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to do this; other possible methods of limiting Strasburg’s innings could work, including more days between starts or shutting him down after a playoff spot is clinched. But Rizzo is resolute:
As for those thinking Strasburg could be given a few weeks or a month off and then return in, say, September, Rizzo says don’t count on that happening.
“When it happens, Stephen will not pitch again until spring training (in 2013),” he said. “We tried something similar with [Jordan] Zimmermann last year and he just could not get going again. We won’t make the same mistake.”
Meanwhile, Rizzo might have a fight on his hands:
“I said it recently, they’ll have to rip the ball out of my hand,” Strasburg said Wednesday night, “and I mean it.”
This story is likely to get more interesting as the season continues. Stay tuned.
Will the Nationals, or won't they? Should the Nationals have, or shouldn't the Nationals have? This is the one unavoidable story of the second half, and for very good reason.
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