Strasburg Nearing Unstable Territory – Nationals Seeking Starter ?

Stephen Strasburg NewsStephen Strasburg wants to pitch the entire season, hell or high water.  General manager Mike Rizzo will not let that happen– or will he? According to Pedro Gomez at ESPN, Rizzo stated that he will be the one that dictates when Strasburg will be shut down.

Strasburg underwent Tommy John Surgery towards the end of his rookie season in 2010 and made his comeback in September of 2011, pitching a total of 44 innings that season.

Strasburg has been nothing short of brilliant for the Nationals this season, compiling a 10-4 record through 18 starts.  Strasburg, 23, leads the league in total strikeouts with 135 and strikeouts per nine innings with a 11.6 rate.  So

Coming into this season, the 160 inning mark was thought to be the end of Strasburg’s 2012 season, but comments made by Rizzo this Wednesday on ESPN could leave the situation up for debate through the latter parts of the campaign.

“There is no magic number,” Rizzo said. “It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won’t decide and ownership won’t decide. It will be the general manager, and that’s me.” -GM Mike Rizzo, Courtesy of ESPN

The Nationals are currently 53-37, first place in the National League East by 3.5 games.  Taking Strasburg out of the rotation in the middle of a pennant race would be a huge blow to the Nats, but the proper action must be taken to protect the teams’s investment.

In response to speculation that he could be taken out of the rotation, Strasburg in return had the following to say.

“I said it recently, they’ll have to rip the ball out of my hand,” Strasburg said Wednesday night, “and I mean it.” -Strasburg, Courtesy of ESPN

Since the team has found themselves in the middle of a pennant race, there is now speculation the team will trade for another starter for when Strasburg will be taken out of the rotation.

According to MLB Trade Rumorsthe Nationals are now in on Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and are “trying hard” to land the veteran.    Despite pitching for the lowly Cubs, Dempster is having a standout season, compiling the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.86.  Dempster’s asking price will be higher than other options the Nationals will potentially look at in the coming weeks.

If the Nationals miss out on Dempster, they will have a couple more avenues to pursue before the trade deadline.  Francisco Liriano, Kevin Millwood, Paul Maholm and Edinson Volquez could all be made available and would take considerably less to attain one of them in a trade.

Washington could also go after another class of pitchers if they decided to give up more in return.  Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Matt Garza and Wandy Rodriguez could all be had for the right price, but those prices will be significantly higher than the other pitchers mentioned above.

GM Mike Rizzo mentions that Strasburg will undergo the eye test and will be shut down when the time is appropriate.  One is to believe that Strasburg could conceivably pass that eye test and not be shut down in 2012.

That option seems unlikely, as the Nationals need to make sure they protect their 23 year old investment.  Look for Washington to go after another starter to help bolster their rotation down the stretch in case of Strasburg being shut down.

 


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