Player wants Strasburg on roster

Updated: October 10, 2012, 5:38 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Washington Nationals' decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg apparently still is not sitting well with at least one of his teammates.

An unnamed Nationals player told FoxSports.com that Washington would have won its first two NL Division Series games against the St. Louis Cardinals if Strasburg were on the roster.

Washington won the series opener despite a shaky outing from 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez but lost Game 2 in St. Louis as the Cardinals pounded Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann.

"If we had (Strasburg), we'd be up 2-0," the anonymous player told FoxSports.com.

The Cardinals rolled to an 8-0 victory Wednesday in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Strasburg's season ended prematurely in early September as the Nationals stuck to their previously stated plan of limiting the 24-year-old to fewer than 160 innings this season, his first full campaign since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.

The decision to shut down Strasburg has been hotly debated throughout the season, especially since the Nationals finished with the best record in the majors and clinched the franchise's first postseason berth since 1981. Wednesday's contest marked the first time since 1933 that the city of Washington hosted a postseason game.

Strasburg was vital to the Nationals' success this season, going 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA while recording 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings. Although he admittedly was unhappy about being shut down, Strasburg said Tuesday that he has accepted the team's decision.

"I'm still pretty upset," he told reporters. "I'm kind of past that. It's done with. There's nothing you can do. I could sit here and be upset and not be a good teammate, but I don't want to be that type of guy. I want to pull for these guys and make sure that everybody knows that I'm with them, even though I'm not out there playing."

The Nationals still boast a strong rotation without Strasburg, a group led by Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Game 3 starter Edwin Jackson. But Washington's decision to leave Strasburg off the postseason roster almost certainly will be lamented if the Nationals fail to win the World Series.

"We've got to win it," the unnamed player told FoxSports.com. "We've got to win it to make it go away."

Gonzalez struggled with his command in Game 1, walking seven over five innings and not factoring in the decision in Washington's 3-2 victory. Zimmermann, who posted a 2.94 ERA during the regular season, was even less effective in Game 2, allowing five runs over just three innings in a 12-4 loss.

Jackson settled down after a rough start Wednesday but recorded the loss, allowing four runs in five innings.

"(Strasburg) would have lengthened out our rotation to the point where teams can't stay with us," the player told FoxSports.com.

The top overall pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg was outstanding as a rookie the following season before suffering a torn ligament in his elbow. The right-hander returned to make one start in 2011, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo declared early this season that Strasburg's innings would be limited -- regardless of whether Washington made the postseason.

Strasburg acknowledged Tuesday that despite lobbying at one point to return for the postseason, he realizes that the Nationals likely won't take that risk.

"It's their call," he said. "It'd be pretty reckless to have me get on the mound and get going now after not even getting on the mound for a month. I talked to them about it for the week after that, but they were pretty firm. Now it's to the point where I don't think it would be smart for anybody to do that."

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