“You don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to get shut down when the games start to matter,” Strasburg said. “It’s going to be a tough one to swallow, but like I said, all I can do is be the best teammate possible to these guys.”
He continued: “It sucks. I’ve just got to move forward. I’ve got to be here for this team now.”
The Nationals showed similar precaution with Jordan Zimmermann last season, shutting him down in August despite his effectiveness at the top of the team’s rotation. Rizzo said the two showed similar tendencies in their first seasons after Tommy John surgery.
“Other than the lack of consistency, they’re probably similar. That’s typical of Tommy John rehab patients,” Rizzo said. “Often times, it’s not the velocity or the arm strength that’s the first sign of fatigue. It’s the delivery. Is he online, or is he falling off? Can he finish his pitches? You take all those things into consideration, and it very much resembled Jordan’s season last year.”
Despite Strasburg’s reaction, Rizzo said the process has been “business as usual.” Saturday morning was simply the fulfillment of a plan that was originally laid out in February and has been followed ever since. That plan was the product of an underlying philosophy that the Nationals have used on all of their players, regardless of potential, time of year or place in the standings.
Strasburg understands and said he will not fight the decision. But he’s also unsure that he’ll ever be able to accept. The easiest way of dealing with this situation always was to look the other way, but now Strasburg has nowhere left to look.
“He’s emotional about it,” Johnson said. “He’s one heck of a pitcher and a heck of a competitor. I know he’s been struggling with it for a few weeks, and I know he doesn’t sleep good thinking about it.”
“I mean, I’m mentally worn out seeing it all myself.”
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