We thought we were done with this. We really were. Stephen Strasburg is out of Washington's rotation, John Lannan is set to take his place, and the Nationals are set to enter the postseason with a modified rotation of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, and Edwin Jackson. Done. Over. Finished.
And then we clicked on over to Grantland and read Rany Jazayerli's thoughts. To put it mildly, they gave us pause.
The reason we've spotlighted this while passing over the rants of the likes of Cal Ripken, Tommy John, and Rob Dibble is simple: we prize objective, empirical data over subjective personal experience. As should we all. Jazayerli's piece should serve as the white paper for all those who are convinced that the Nationals made an error.
You should read the whole thing, but here are the passages that jumped out to us.
The Nationals are making Strasburg pay for sins inflicted on pitchers from a different generation.
Strasburg is the product of an era in which a pitcher's well-being already comes first. This approach has succeeded in reducing injuries significantly, but not entirely. There's only so much risk that can be squeezed out of the equation, no matter how much you protect a pitcher's arm. Some pitchers will get hurt no matter how well you protect them. You know which pitcher illustrates this best? Stephen Strasburg.
But the main reason the Nationals are wrong to shut down Strasburg is simply this: The risk they're trying to mitigate has already been mitigated for them.
We'll make a personal confession: we understood the Nationals' reason behind the shutdown and knew why they wouldn't change their mind. However, throughout this whole period of controversy, the motto of the British Special Air Service kept knocking around the back of our mind: Who Dares, Wins.