Craig Heist, wtop.com
WASHINGTON — After announcing Stephen Strasburg would have two more starts left in his season on Saturday night, manager Davey Johnson, pitching coach Steve McCatty and General Manager Mike Rizzo sat down with Strasburg and informed him of the decision -- the worst kept secret in Washington -- the 23-year-old right hander will be shut down after two more starts.
"He hates McCatty more than he did before the meeting," Johnson says jokingly to reporters before Monday's game with the Cubs.
"It's no secret Stras is an intense competitor. 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 anyone involved in this whole thing because he wants to be here and help his teammates," Johnson says.
Strasburg is scheduled to pitch again on Friday for the first game of the Marlins series and then his final start will be against the Mets at Citi Field in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Strasburg, who is 15-6 with a 2.94 ERA and 195 strikeouts on the year, had Tommy John surgery to replace an elbow ligament two years ago.
His name is in consideration when it comes to the Cy Young conversation, but more importantly for him is the fact he will not be able to help his team the last three weeks of the regular season and whatever the post-season brings for the Nats.
"He has worked harder than anyone else coming back from that surgery," Johnson says. "This is what you dream about being a part of, so I know how he feels."
With Strasburg shut down, the Nationals rotation the rest of the season will include Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan, who will take Strasburg's spot.
"The way I look at things, the job the Lerner's and the front office have done building this organization; I don't look at things as this is the only chance for this team to be in the post-season or the World Series," Strasburg says.
"This team wasn't just piecemealed together for one year. It's built to last and we're trying to make sure it lasts."
And that, in the club's eyes, is the main reason for the Strasburg shutdown. The Nats truly believe with what they have in the pitching department, they will be just fine with the guys they are able to throw out there after Strasburg leaves the mound. This will be especially true in a short series where you only need three or four starters.
There was never any consideration from Johnson or anyone else to alter Strasburg's routine to try and prolong his season so he could keep pitching.
"I've listened to all the gurus. I've listened to all the advice. None of it made much sense, to use him different than I was using him," Johnson says.
"He's not a number five starter; he's a number one starter. It's more detrimental and more haphazard to miss a start and push him back and push him back. That's more dangerous for the health of a pitcher."
"This is his first full year in the big leagues. It's a big increase in innings. There's tons of records to validate this decision," he adds.
Agree or disagree with the decision, the decision has been made. Right or wrong, it will be a constant topic of debate from now until the post-season ends.
If it ends with the Nats winning the World Series, we can all say what was the big deal? If not, let the second guessing begin, but I think that has already happened.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)