For the past several weeks the baseball world has been hearing about the Washington Nationals' controversial decision to shutdown pitcher Stephen Strasburg. However, Strasburg has consistently indicated that there had been no formal communication between management and him on the issue. On Monday morning, Strasburg was given the news about why he won't be a part of the Nationals' starting rotation much longer.
Strasburg finally met with manager Davey Johnson, pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo about his proposed shutdown. He has only two starts remaining. Friday at home against the Miami Marlins and September 12th in New York when he'll face the Mets.
After Strasburg pitched six shutout innings against the Cardinals on Sunday, Johnson announced that timeframe for the controversial shutdown. The 24-year-old right-hander leads the National League in strikeouts with 195 and has a 15-6 record with a 2.94 ERA.
"He hates McCatty more than he did before the meeting," Johnson quipped. "And me and Rizzo."
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has pitched 156 innings this season. Last year, in a similar situation, the team chose to shutdown right-hander Jordan Zimmermann after he pitched 161 innings.
"I'm not sure any of us understand, but it's the right thing to do," Johnson said.
Strasburg has been quiet about the topic and had little to say about it after his start on Sunday. He was not available for comment on Monday.
"Stras is an intense competitor," Johnson said. "He wants to be here, wants to be contributing, wants to be helping. And I'm sure it's probably eating him up more than anybody involved in this whole thing because he wants to be here and helping his teammates. He's worked harder than anybody coming back from surgery, and this is what you dream about being a part of."
With the Nationals in first place, six and a half games in front of Atlanta, they are in good position to qualify for the postseason. But Strasburg will have to watch it from the dugout as the Nationals have chosen to do what they believe will protect his future and that of the organization.
"I don't look at things as this is the only chance you're going to get to be in the postseason or to be in the World Series," Johnson said. "This team wasn't just pieced together for one year. It's built to last, and we're trying to make sure it lasts."