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Nats players grumbling over Strasburg

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08:14 AM ET 10.10 | Sound the alarm. Sorry, it's time to utter the "S" word. Heck, some of the Washington Nationals' players are saying it, with very little prompting. "If we had 'Stras, we'd be up 2-0," one player told me Tuesday. Meaning, if Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg had started the first two games of the Division Series for the Nationals, the team would be leading the St. Louis Cardinals, two games to none. ... Would Strasburg have made a difference? Again, no one can say for sure. But to yet another Nationals player, the answer was obvious. "He would have lengthened out our rotation to the point where teams can't stay with us," that player said. Still, most people understand why the Nationals capped Strasburg at 159-1/3 innings.

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Stephen Strasburg, Getty Images Stephen Strasburg, Getty Images
October 10, 2012  08:49 AM ET

The Nats have had plenty of time to plan and strategize around the decision to limit Strasburg's innings. It wasn't like the decision to do so was made at the end of the regular season.

Comment #2 has been removed
October 10, 2012  09:25 AM ET

Quit whining! They still have 3 very good, reliable and consistent pitchers in Zimmerman, Gio and Det. Some teams don't even have two.

October 10, 2012  09:29 AM ET

They are already getting their excuses ready if they don't beat the Cards and advance to the next leve, or like the Braves fans who blame their misfortunes on the umpires call instead of the 3 errors the team made that cost them the game.

October 10, 2012  09:30 AM ET

^^^ LIKE

October 10, 2012  10:14 AM ET

Wow, guess they're throwing Zim under the bus. Look, a great team goes out there and does what it takes. There are no excuses because really every team is trying to overcome something. Play don't whine.

October 10, 2012  10:24 AM ET

The 3 errors did not help the Braves chances. However the infield fly rule did cost them a chance at the W. According to the MLB rule book an infield fly must be called immediately. The umpire waited until the ball was almost on the ground. The Braves protest should have been awarded because the umpire's decision was in direct violation of the rules of the game. Infield fly rules are judgment calls, but calls that must be made immediately. By definition, it would be the equivalent of an umpire checking the replay booth and coming out declaring a strike 3 when his original call was a ball. They are both judgment calls that must be made immediately. When it was not ruled immediately it should not have been called. The officials on the field should have overruled it and not allowed it, not should MLB have allowed a direct violation of the rules of the game. Would it have made a difference? Who knows...but bases loaded with 1 out, down by 3, looks better than runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Next batter could've hit into a double-play and ended the inning anyway, or a base hit would've scored 2 of the 3 runs needed. You never know, and that's why the protest should've been awarded.

October 10, 2012  10:27 AM ET

I understand why Strasburg had his innings capped ... but not at 160 ... and not during the stretch run and playoffs. There is NO medical evidence that 160 innings is "safer" than 200 and there is NO reason they could not have started his season a month later, leaving him free to pitch during the most important part of the year rather than in April.

October 10, 2012  10:34 AM ET

Rizzo made a business decision. Not necessarily the best competitive decision.

October 10, 2012  10:37 AM ET

In DC, the whining has been going on since April. If the decision was to limit innings to ensure a longer career, then it's the right decision. Imagine an injury during the playoffs...the same folks complaining about shutting him down would complain that they did not. Today is a must-win for the Nats, because going down 2-1 is never a good thing. If the Nats lose the series, the blame will be shutting Stras down and the 2-3 format. If they do lose, I will blame it on their lack of experience, which would be fair. Yes, I'm a DC guy, but grew up a Mets fan (picked them against the O's in '69 when I was 7 and have been a fan ever since), and like the Nats and wish them well. I think they will beat the Cards...the Reds will be a tough series.

October 10, 2012  10:46 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Wow, guess they're throwing Zim under the bus. Look, a great team goes out there and does what it takes. There are no excuses because really every team is trying to overcome something. Play don't whine.

Agreed.

Zimmerman: ERA 2.94,
Strasburg: ERA 3.16,

It would be nice to have Strasburg to start today, but Zimmerman should have been starting yesterday's game even if Strasburg was available.

October 10, 2012  10:50 AM ET

Strasburg was experiencing arm fatigue throughout his later outings in the season. Medical personnel associated this fatigue with recovery from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg was also altering his pitching mechanics to account for this fatigue. These mechanical alterations were not only worsening his effectiveness, but they were also increasing his risk for other injuries associated with non-ideal mechanics.

Now, it is arguable that the Nats should have started pitching Strasburg in say June and not April, similar to what the Braves did with Medlen. On the other hand, this would have basically been assuming that the Nats would make the playoffs, an assumption that hasn't proven true since 1933. This is similar to Greenspan's 2001 assertion that we should enact the Bush tax cuts because it was important for financial markets to have treasury bonds, and we would pay off all of our debt otherwise. At the time, the Economist analogized this to a fat man curtailing his diet because if he kept it up, he would be emaciated in 10 years. In short, this was an overly optimistic assumption, and indeed it may have only been valid because Strasburg pitched so well in April and May and allowed the Nats to build a solid NL East lead.

October 10, 2012  10:56 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

The 3 errors did not help the Braves chances. However the infield fly rule did cost them a chance at the W. According to the MLB rule book an infield fly must be called immediately. The umpire waited until the ball was almost on the ground. The Braves protest should have been awarded because the umpire's decision was in direct violation of the rules of the game. Infield fly rules are judgment calls, but calls that must be made immediately. By definition, it would be the equivalent of an umpire checking the replay booth and coming out declaring a strike 3 when his original call was a ball. They are both judgment calls that must be made immediately. When it was not ruled immediately it should not have been called. The officials on the field should have overruled it and not allowed it, not should MLB have allowed a direct violation of the rules of the game. Would it have made a difference? Who knows...but bases loaded with 1 out, down by 3, looks better than runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Next batter could've hit into a double-play and ended the inning anyway, or a base hit would've scored 2 of the 3 runs needed. You never know, and that's why the protest should've been awarded.

Finally! Someone to debate about this! Here's the rule book "When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare ??Infield Fly?? for the benefit of the runners." So, yes, it must be called immediately, when it's apparent the ball will be caught, which is when he called it. The other umpires wouldn't overturn it because they agreed with his interpretation.

October 10, 2012  11:09 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

this would have basically been assuming that the Nats would make the playoffs, an assumption that hasn't proven true since 1933.

This shows how difficult it is to not only get to the post season, but to win once your are there. A team owes it to their fans and veteran players to go for it when one of these rare chances comes along. Might never happen again...There is no future. There is only now.

October 10, 2012  11:10 AM ET

They could've limited his pitch count earlier, maybe as a reliever, and had him for the post season....I dunno....guess that's why the guys making such calls, get the big bucks!

October 10, 2012  11:11 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

They are already getting their excuses ready if they don't beat the Cards and advance to the next leve, or like the Braves fans who blame their misfortunes on the umpires call instead of the 3 errors the team made that cost them the game.

I haven't seen any Braves fans around here do that. Chipper's error basically cost them the game. I didn't like the call, but the Braves still had plenty of chances in that game.

Too bad Chipper has to think about that easy double play the rest of his life...

October 10, 2012  11:13 AM ET

Hey Washington....if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his rear too.......quit whining and play BB or the Cards will beat you w/Strasburg or without.

October 10, 2012  11:31 AM ET

Hey Nationals..need some cheese with that whine?

Comment #19 has been removed
 
October 10, 2012  12:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Agreed.Zimmerman: ERA 2.94, Strasburg: ERA 3.16, It would be nice to have Strasburg to start today, but Zimmerman should have been starting yesterday's game even if Strasburg was available.

Good point. I actually want to see Washington take the NL but it's not good to hear the mental state of these few players already thinking "what if". Sounds like they're defeated mentally. Hopefully the guys on the team that are in the right place lead the way and take the other guys with them.

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