Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson have said they will sideline Strasburg, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, at some point this season. Johnson has said Strasburg could be limited to 160 innings to protect the All-Star's future.
Strasburg has thrown 133 innings so far, and Nationals players are questioning whether sitting a star pitcher should be considered while Washington heads into a pennant race.
"You take the best pitchers off any team that has a chance to make it to the postseason and it's devastating," Mark DeRosa said, according to USA Today. "At the same time, we knew it going in. You kind of hoped the better we played the more the decision changed to the opposite."
The Nationals have the best record in baseball and a five-game lead in the National League East.
"If there's a decision to be made, it's their decision," Michael Morse told USA Today. "I'm pretty sure whatever we think isn't going to matter."
According to The Washington Post, even Strasburg's father has asked Rizzo how appropriate the shutdown plan is in a pennant race.
"Mr. Strasburg, don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the full answer," Rizzo told Jim Strasburg, the Post reported. The elder Strasburg replied,
"I want to hear it."
Rizzo told Jim Strasburg that the decision to sit Strasburg was "mine and mine alone."
"It's not on Davey Johnson or (owner Ted) Lerner. It's on me," he told the Post. "I know it may stain my reputation or my career. There's no way it can ever be proved if I was right. The easy thing for me is just to do nothing. But I'm hardheaded. The decision was made five months ago because it was the best decision for Stephen and the Nationals. And nothing is going to change it."
In response, Jim Strasburg consented and told Rizzo, "'That makes a lot of sense," the GM told the Post.
Without Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals will rely more heavily on a deep rotation that also features Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. Still, that's not enough for everyone chasing a World Series title.
"I'm a big believer in erring on the side of Strasburg," closer Drew Storen told USA Today.