Stephen Strasburg upset by decision
"I thought I had another start," the right-hander said after the Nationals' 7-6 win over Miami on Saturday. "It was pretty shocking and honestly, I'm not too happy about it."
Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement Saturday morning, citing the effect of the media attention surrounding the impending shutdown on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
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"I just told Stephen that his year is over. He's had a great year. I know what he's going through," Johnson said. "The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable. I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change."
The 24-year-old ace said he tried to talk his way into one more start.
"I talked to them about it and they seemed pretty firm," Strasburg said. "It's not just about me. It's not about one player. I think the best thing I can do now is move forward and be the best teammate I can."
"I don't know if I'm ever gonna accept it to be honest," Strasburg said of the plan to end his season prematurely. "It's something that I'm not happy about at all. That's not why I play the game. I play the game to be a good teammate and win.
"You don't grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to get shut down when the games start to matter. It's gonna be a tough one to swallow, but like I said, all I can do is be the best teammate possible for these guys."
Johnson said the decision was his, and pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo were in agreement.
"My job is to do what's best for the player. And this is what's best," Johnson said. "If you're not there 100 percent mentally -- he's a gifted athlete, his velocity can still be there -- but I don't see the crispness. I don't see the ball jumping out of his hand. I'm a firm believer that this game's 90 to 95 percent mental and he's only human. I don't know how anybody can be totally mentally concentrating on the job at hand with the media hype to this thing and I think we'd be risking more by sending him out."
Strasburg allowed five runs and matched his career low by lasting only three innings in the Nationals' 9-7, 10-inning loss to the Marlins on Friday night.
"This is a plan we put in place Feb. 1. We've been true to the plan and we haven't wavered from it one bit," Rizzo said. "This is just the culmination of that plan. I believe in my heart that it's the right thing to do for the player and the right thing to do for the player is the right thing to do for the franchise."
The impact of removing Strasburg from the rotation might not only be felt on the field.
Strasburg's 14 home starts this year have averaged 30,642 fans per game. In the other home games the Nationals have played, the team has drawn an average of 23,547 fans per game. So Strasburg is worth 7,095 fans more per game.
The average Nationals ticket is $30.54, according to Team Marketing Report, which means Strasburg, on average, is worth $216,681 more at the gate per game to the team.
Strasburg's two missed home starts will cost the Nationals a total of $532,692 -- and, don't forget, the Nationals will pay him not to work over the next 24 days, which will cost them $393,442.
Strasburg finished 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in his first full season after undergoing elbow-ligament replacement surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. He struck out 197 in 159 1/3 innings.
"He's had a terrific season for us," Rizzo said. "You couldn't ask for anything more coming off his first season of Tommy John surgery. He's a huge part of where we're at right now."
Information from ESPN's Darren Rovell and The Associated Press was used in this report.