Before the season started Washington said they would only allow Stephen Strasburg to pitch around 160 innings this year.  At the time it seemed like a good idea.  They were a perennial last place team that was being smart and conservative with their former #1 overall draft pick coming off of Tommy John surgery.  He was a guy considered to be the future of the franchise; a superstar in the making with only half a season of big league experience.

The Nats may not get another chance like this.

But, things have changed.  Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in the majors today (15-6, 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 197 K).  Oh yeah, and the Nationals are in first place.  At 85-53 they have the best record in all of Major League Baseball.  This is a franchise that has never won a championship, playing in a city that hasn’t even witnessed a postseason game since 1933 (in fact their only playoff appearance was as the Montreal Expos 31 years ago; during a bizarre strike shortened 1981 season in which MLB added an extra round in order to represent the clubs with the best records both before and after the mid season strike).

After yesterday’s game Strasburg’s innings count stands at 159 and 1/3, and true to their word the Nationals announced today that they are shutting him down for the season.  They’re the best team in baseball, and they are going to voluntarily stop using their number one starter in order to “save him for the future.”  Wake up.  Take a look around.  The future is right now.  What are you saving him for?  Your franchise will never get a better chance to win it’s first World Series and bring a title to a city starving for one.  Nothing should get in the way of that.

I would understand if it was Strasburg himself (or his agent) that felt this was the right move.  He has a long career and future contracts to worry about.  But for the team, the opportunity of a lifetime is staring them right in the face, and they’re choosing to look the other way.

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