“First in war, first in peace, and last in American League” once depicted the fledgling Washington Senators franchise. However, these Washington Nationals are not your grandparents’ MLB team. These are the 1994 Montreal Expos in disguise.
The Washington Nationals can win the World Series. The pitching staff is well stocked with flame-throwers capable of accomplishing the impossible. This rare opportunity will cease the moment Operation Shutdown begins.
Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher in the National League, with the most dominating array of pitches. The 24 year-old features a four-seam fastball (94-100), two-seam fastball (92-95), curveball (79-82), and a changeup (88-90). His repertoire is remarkable.
However, removing Strasburg from the rotation and post-season roster, because of the organization’s imposed innings limit, will prevent the Nationals from advancing to the World Series. Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and company are very good but none of them is a number one, shutdown, start-Game-Seven type of pitcher.
In 2010, Strasburg made his MLB debut by striking out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates batters and electrified the baseball world in the process. However, only 68 innings into his career, the right-hander tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, resulting in him undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The point is the Washington Nationals handled their prized rookie with every precaution. Strasburg never threw more than 100 pitches per start and he still ended up with a damaged elbow. Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and C.C. Sabathia amassed 200+ innings totals in their early twenties. Why not Strasburg?
The prevailing notion is obvious, teams do not want their prime pitching resources to end up like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, on an operating table. Nothing in baseball is guaranteed and having a legitimate chance to win the World Series does not appear every year (see the Chicago Cubs and ask the aforementioned duo). In fact, no Washington based MLB team has won the Fall Classic since 1924 (last appeared in post-season 1933).
It is time for the Washington Nationals franchise to seize the moment and utilize all of their pitching assets to claim victory for the Nation’s capitol. Let’s make Walter Johnson proud and finally allow “Teddy” to win the Presidents Race.