Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg Done, Nationals Bench Star Pitcher During Playoff Race

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg should have a storybook season to remember this year, instead he’s done for the year. After coming back from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg is among the best pitchers in baseball, and he’s clearly the best pitcher on the Washington team.

If that’s not enough, his 15-6 record, 197 strikeouts and 3.16 ERA have helped the Nationals to a six-game lead in the National League East heading into the stretch run. In short, he’s been great and his team is a World Series contender.

But after dealing with injuries, the 24-year old is competing in his first full — well mostly full — MLB season and since the team has a major investment in him, Nationals’ brass decided before the season began that he would be held to a strict inning count. CNN reports that Manager Davey Johnson informed Stasburg of the decision that he was done for the year. In his last start he gave up five runs in three innings.

“We just figured that mentally and physically, Stephen looked like he was fatigued,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told USA Today. “We decided, what’s the difference of 1 59 1/3 innings or 163 or 164 or 165 1/3 innings? We said let’s pull the plug today.”

Johnson didn’t say Strasburg was out of gas, instead he attributed the star pitcher’s rough night to a lack of focus. Strasburg is taking the shutdown hard and apparently wants to keep pitching with his team in the thick of a playoff race.

His teammates seem to wish he was still pitching too. He’ll be around the team for the rest of the year, but he won’t be on the mound, no doubt a frustrating position for his teammates.

“He’ll be like a Christmas present,” Nationals utilityman Mark De Rosa said, “(One) that you can’t open.”