We know that the Washington Nationals made the decision to limit Stephen Strasburg's innings. It was a plan put in place after consultations with medical professionals, and it piggy-backs off the way they handled the Jordan Zimmermann situation last season. When the announcement was made, the number of people complaining about shutting down baseball's top pitching phenom was limited at best. More to the point, the inning restriction was made public before the season even began, and nary a sound was heard about the short-sighted nature of this particular thought process.
It's easy to point at Nats' general manager Mike Rizzo and accuse him of mishandling this whole Stasburg situation. It'd be more impressive, however, if those grievances were being uttered when the innings conversation began. You didn't hear a peep about it back in April, now did you? You didn't hear the talking heads at ESPN, who seemingly have all the answers regarding all things sport, decrying the rationalization, and declaring these restrictions as arbitrary and unfounded. But now that Davey Johnson has led this club to the brink of a possible World Series entry, the Monday morning quarterbacks have reared their ugly heads.
The Nationals have a number of reasons to shelve their prized position after the 180-inning platueau is reached. But frankly speaking, they're not under any obligation to share those explanations with anybody. The only group they need to be held accountable to is the players and the coaching staff, and Rizzo, while willing to discuss the matter, isn't going to allow sports talk radio or national columists alter the future of his franchise. He's responsible for it, and is willing to sink or swim with the plan set forth with the help of those who know what they're talking about.
Some accuse the Nationals of underestimating their team, suggesting that they wouldn't have put a restraint on Strasburg's work if they knew they'd be contending for a postseason berth. Whether they would admit it or not, the course of action taken was not contingent on unexpected success, because, as the kids like to say, that's not how Mike Rizzo rolls. If you haven't figured out by now that Rizzo plays by a different set of rules, then you wouldn't know that he wouldn't be persuaded even if a crystal ball was shoved near his cranium.
Adam Kilgore, baseball writer for the Washington Post, said it perfectly last month in one of his columns. From his July 17 entry: "Rizzo is not looking at the shutting down of Strasburg through the prism of competition. He views it strictly from a health standpoint."
That's not good enough for some people, as the airwaves have lit up with complaints from fans and media alike. The comical thing about this whole situation is that, as good as Strasburg is, this team is already stacked, and they have the kind of pitching depth that will give them every chance to win the World Series this season. Gio Gonzalez, who threw a five-hit, 10-0 shutout against St. Louis tonight, is now 17-7 with a 3.10 ERA. Throw in Zimmerman (9-8, 2.63 ERA), Edwin Jackson (8-9, 3.53 ERA), and Ross Detwiler if need be, and the Nationals have more than adequate pitching weapons when October rolls around.