Breaking news out of Washington: Nationals manager Davey Johnson has announced that Stephen Strasburg has been shut down, effective immediately. The news was first reported by Byron Kerr of MASN. This shut down comes one start early, as we reported last week that Strasburg's last start was initially slated for September 12th. Johnson apparently believes that the media distractions have become too much for Strasburg…which is to be expected when your team is having the best season in baseball.
The news comes just a day after the Marlins had their way with Strasburg on Friday night, scoring five runs on six hits in three innings against Washington's ace, walking three times and striking out just twice. Strasburg threw six shutout innings while striking out nine and walking one on Sunday against the Cardinals, but got beaten up by the Marlins again last Tuesday, allowing five runs in five innings, striking out just three batters.
Strasburg's velocity on all of his pitches last night was right around where it had been all season, so I don't think there's concern that he's hurt…the Nationals are just being overly cautious after bad outings in two of his last three starts (albeit against the same team). Strasburg will finish his year with 159 1/3 innings, a 3.16 ERA, and 197 strikeouts.
The Nationals still hold a 6.5 game lead over the Braves in the NL East, and have the best record in baseball, so it's not as if this shutdown is going to destroy their season. But, if they fade down the stretch or struggle in the playoff, their handling of Strasburg will likely get the finger pointed at as the reason for their struggles.