Originally posted on The Sports Rocker  |  Last updated 9/13/12
News came out today that Stephen Strasburg's doctors said that there was no definitive evidence that shutting him down would actually help him. Why do I have the feeling this story is just going to get weird for the sake of being weird?


In an article from the LA Times, Strasburg's surgeon, Dr. Lewis Yocum, said he was not consulted about Strasburg's innings pitch limit. Instead, this was put in place by Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. Rizzo also used the same approach to Jordan Zimmerman, who had Tommy John surgery (also by Dr. Lewis) in 2009. Similar to Strasburg, Zimmerman returned at the end of the 2010 season for 31 innings, and pitched 161 1/3 innings in 2011. Let the record show that Zimmerman has not missed a start this season and is 7th in the National League in ERA.

I know. I get worried thinking about it, too.Maybe Nationals GM Rizzo really doesn't have any medical evidence. Maybe it is just a hunch. A gut feeling. Baseball is a sport of superstitions. If Rizzo feels that what worked one time is sure to work again, why not? And don't step on the chalk line when you're walking off the field. Keep in mind, Rizzo's job is to protect the club, and make sure the club is in a position to win going forward. If the owners don't have a problem with it, then what's the problem?

Strasburg and his supporters. In what is news to them, the Nationals really did go through with their plains to shut him down at 160 innings. Oh my God, they did what they said they were going to do all along? Shudder the thought! 

Strasburg had this to say about being told his season was over:
"I don't know if I'm ever gonna accept it to be honest. It's something that I'm not happy about at all. That's not why I play the game. I play the game to be a good teammate and win."
And thus concludes the honeymoon portion of our program.

While Rizzo may be making what he believes to be the best decision for the team now, what happens when Strasburg is eligible for salary arbitration? Does he sign a contract extension? Rather, does he even attempt to negotiate a new deal with the Nationals? While Strasburg may be upset right now, if he stays healthy and pitches like he is capable of over the next few years, he could really cash in during his arbitration years, starting with the 2013 season. With the players eligible for arbitration (assuming they keep them all) the Nationals payroll could increase from right below $70 million to over $85 million. That also includes ballooning contracts of Jason Werth and other players currently under contract.

That could spell trouble for the Nationals keeping their core intact. For example, Strasburg is eligible for arbitration each year until 2017. His salary could increase dramatically through arbitration.

So, while Strasburg might be upset that he isn't out there competing now and might miss a few starts and the playoffs, he shouldn't be that mad about it. He'll get his due. Ultimately, Rizzo is building the Nationals to be competitive every season, not just this season. Strasburg should have another opportunity, if not many more.
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