Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/13/12

The question was bound to come up.
After the Cardinals knocked out the Nationals in Game 5 of their National League Division Series on� Friday, many wanted to know whether the series would have turned out differently if young Washington ace Stephen Strasburg had started Game 1 and Game 5.
But Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo didn't want to re-visit his decision to shut down Strasburg for the season in September. Rizzo made the move then out of concern for the long-term health of Strasburg's elbow after the young pitcher returned this season from Tommy John surgery.
"I'm not going to think about it," Rizzo told reporters. "We had a plan in mind. It was something we had from the beginning. I stand by my decision. We'll take the criticism as it comes, but we have to do what's best for the Washington Nationals. And we think we did."
The Nationals were one strike away from eliminating the Cardinals in the ninth inning Friday night without Strasburg, but Washington closer Drew Storen squandered a two-run lead.
"It's irrelevant now, it really is," Nationals infielder Mark DeRosa said. "It shouldn't even be written about. Because who knows? Who's to say he doesn't go out and throw no-hitters and who's to say he doesn't go out and get hit around? You'll never know. I don't even like to worry about it. "We had the right guy on the mound at the right time [in Storen]. We had the lead. We had a chance to close it down and didn't get it done against a great team. Defending World Series Champions. I heard Chase Utley say this when [the Giants] faced [the Phillies] in 2010 NLCS. 'You want to be the best, you've got to beat the best.' And we didn't."
But the debate is likely to go on.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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