Tonight is a big deal at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg is back on the mound for the Nationals as he starts against the Dodgers. He is the only reason people pay attention to the Nationals, so there’s excitement in the air.
Forgive me for not being excited about Strasburg making his 2011 debut.
It’s incredibly dumb to start a future Hall of Fame pitcher for games that do not matter anymore, especially for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery. Why risk another injury in his arm?
An injury of his arm could have an effect for next season. If that’s the case, this could mean Strasburg could have arm issues for the rest of his career. That’s the downside of starting him, and it’s something the Nationals can’t afford to do.
Strasburg is an once-in-a-lifetime pitcher. He has so much skill and talent that would make hitters look bad, and he demonstrated that last season. He made it look easy, which made folks mutter about how he is wise beyond his years. With that type of talent, the Nationals can’t afford to see him go through arm problems. It would ruin whatever good momentum this franchise had in years to come.
The organization doesn’t feel that way. They want him to get his work in this year. They want to get fannies in the seats. They want to get people to pay attention to this franchise. They know fans are stoked to see the franchise pitch tonight for them.
If getting fans in the seats influence the organization to start Strasburg, their priorities is wrong. Fans shouldn’t dictate what an organization should do when it comes to personnel. They need to come up with the big picture, which having him ready to start in 2012.
They should forget about marketing the product and trying to make themselves relevant this year. It doesn’t matter. Only thing that matters is seeing Strasburg pitch all of six months next year, not seeing a team market the public. Winning gets people to the seats. The park should be filled every game, and having the franchise start every five games is not going to increase attendance at all.
Someone mentioned the Nationals want Strasburg to start so that he can he get in pitching shape. It’s a good point, and that’s another incentive for them to start him. With that said, that theory is flawed. How is he going to get in shape if he is pitching only five innings? It doesn’t make sense. If a starter is out there, he has to be there for six or seven innings, not be on a pitch limit.
Strasburg already has his work in by pitching in the minors. That should be enough. Forget about him being in shape by facing major league hitters. There’s nothing good coming out of it, especially if he is going to be limited to what he does.
He will likely have four or five starts of the season. That is not going to do much for him.
With Tommy John surgeries, it could go either way. There is a good chance that he could reinjured his arm. It happens to many starters that gone through it. That’s not the risk the Nationals should go out and taking.
Make no mistake. If Strasburg is injured at any time this month, there will be second-guessing from everyone. That includes the same folks who are happy to see him start. It’s not going to be pretty when that happens.
It doesn’t matter if Strasburg pitches great or terrible. The important result is his arm is okay and there are no lingering problems. That’s what the team should hope for.
Expectations for him should not be high. He probably will struggle tonight, and that’s okay. It means nothing. If he does great, good for him and the Nationals.
There is no doubt that there is going to be an intrigue of what he does. He set the standard high after an impressive debut, and fans want to see more. It will be interesting how he does, and how his arm feel.
Let’s settle on Strasburg feeling good and having no effects of the Tommy John surgery. That is a victory in itself.
A better victory would be him not throwing a pitch this year, but him being healthy to finish the year would do.