A Look Back: The Washington Nationals’ 2012 Season

3 of 5

The Shutdown

Every fifth day, Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson knew he had an ace out on the mound. Stephen Strasburg pitched 159.1 innings, in which he made 28 starts, going 15-6 and earning a 3.16 ERA, 1.155 WHIP,  197 strikeouts, and only 48 walks. However, the young ace did not make a start after September 7th, as 2012 was his first season following Tommy John surgery. The Nationals organization decided to preserve his arm as a precautionary action for the future.

The shutdown was widely debated across baseball, as the Nationals were in first place in the NL East and would almost certainly be needing Strasburg if they were to make a deep postseason run. Looking back now, would he have made an impact?

In Game 1, Gio Gonzalez pitched 5 innings, giving up two runs (both earned) on one hit and seven walks in the Nats’ 3-2 win. As Washington won, having Strasburg on the mound would not have made much of a difference. In Game 5, Gonzalez took the mound again, and while he was not dazzling, he certainly out dueled opposing pitcher Adam WainwrightiIt was the bullpen that blew the game.

Ultimately, the Nationals made the right decision. The team was young and had a bright future ahead of them. They were built to win for a long time and wanted to preserve that security blanket by ensuring the health of their young superstar. While Strasburg may look back at the 2012 season as a missed opportunity, he can also look forward to a higher chance of a long and healthy career.

Next: The Award Winners