Outside the Nationals’ clubhouse, the decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg has been met by many with a mixture of shock and disgust.
Inside the Nationals’ clubhouse, word that Strasburg will only get two more starts before his 2012 season is brought to an end was largely met with shoulder shrugs.
Are some guys a little frustrated that Strasburg won’t be there with them as they make the final push for the postseason? Sure. Are some guys disappointed they won’t have their ace if and when they take part in playoff games this fall? Of course.
But Strasburg’s teammates have known for a long time this shutdown was coming. Beyond that, many of them appreciate the fact that the organization is willing to look out for a player’s well-being and long-term health rather than pushing that player when they feel it’s not wise to do so.
Add in the fact that the Nationals have a .585 winning percentage when Strasburg doesn’t start, and it shows that the Nats can, and already have, won without their 24-year-old right-hander.
“It’s a decision they’ve made,” Ian Desmond said. “It’s obviously an educated decision and we know that we’re a good ballclub. We’ve got solid pitching top to bottom and we feel like we can win with anybody on the mound.”
As for the thought which many national media types or baseball fans outside the D.C. area seem to hold - that the Nationals will fall apart once Strasburg is shut down - no one in the Nats’ clubhouse buys into that in the slightest.
“I don’t really know any of that,” Desmond said. “I haven’t heard any of that, but I guess watch and see.”
The Nats have a proven major league starter in John Lannan ready to replace Strasburg in the rotation over the final few weeks of the season. They have a top-four of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, who have combined to post a 3.23 ERA this season.
Knowing how talented Strasburg is, the Nats are confident they’ll be just fine, with their ace or without him.
“We’ve faced adversity all year long,” manager Davey Johnson said. “We didn’t have our cleanup hitter, we didn’t have our closer. We lost our starting catcher, we lost Jayson Werth for two months. That’s just the way this year’s been. We’ve been fortunate in the starting staff with the exception of Chien-Ming (Wang) pulling his hamstring, everyone in the pitching staff has been very healthy. We’ve been through it.
“We had Zim, Jordan Zimmermann shut down, and last year at this time he was throwing as good arguably as anyone on the staff. We survived.”