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Could Strasburg’s Shut Down Have Been Avoided?

Stephen Strasburg sitting

SITTING IT OUT: Perhaps Strasburg wouldn't be sitting out the rest of the season if the Nationals had handled him like they did Kris Medlen.

Fantasy baseball managers who have been riding Stephen Strasburg all season must now enter their playoffs without their ace starter who has been shelved for the rest of the season based on the controversial innings count.  Could this have been avoided if the Nationals had controlled his early season innings like the Braves did with Kris Medlen?

It’s playoff time for many of you in fantasy baseball and you’ve been riding Stephen Strasburg all year.  That’s the Stephen Strasburg who you believed in at the beginning of the season after coming off of Tommy John surgery.

And, your belief in Strasburg has paid off.   His stats include197 strikeouts in 159.1 innings.  A 15-6 record with a 3.16 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on a very good Washington Nationals team that has run to the top of the National League East and sports the best record in the league.

But, now you enter the most important part of your fantasy baseball season with a star pitcher who won’t take the hill to help you through the playoffs.  If you think you feel badly, how do you think the Nationals players feel?

A Brave Idea Aided the Hottest Pitcher in Baseball

The second place Atlanta Braves took a different approach with its young pitcher, Kris Medlen.  Medlen, who also had Tommy John surgery in the late summer of 2010 and is on an innings count, was used as a reliever early in the season, then moved into the rotation on July 31.  Hence, now that you are in your fantasy baseball playoff run, your opponent has Medlen available as he’s only pitched 110 innings thus far compared to Strasburg who has been shut down at 159.1.  Medlen’s stats: 8-1 record, 1.64 ERA, and 0.96 WHIP.  In his last six starts, Medlen has won all of them and given up just 3 earned runs in 45.1 innings pitched.

Perhaps, even more impressive is the fact that the Braves have won the last 19 starts that Medlen pitched dating back to 2010.  That’s a Braves franchise record.  Over his past 24 starts, Medlen is 13-0, thus making him only the second pitcher in Major League history to not lose in 20 or more starts (Jose Contreras was 17-0 in 24 starts for the White Sox in 2005-06).

Was There a Better Approach for Strasburg?

So, should the Nationals have done with Strasburg what the Braves did with Medlen?

It’s not a fair comparison for sure.  The Nationals, who loaded up in the off-season, have never been to the playoffs and their performance has exceeded expectations.  So, it makes sense that it used Strasburg early in the year as a starter in an attempt to simply get to the promised land.  The Braves, on the other hand, are used to being in the post-season and they sport the most depth at the starting pitcher position in the MLB.  The Braves are still smarting from its late September collapse last year that pushed the Cardinals into the playoffs and eventually the World Series championship.  Plus, Medlen had previous experience as a reliever and Strasburg did not.

But, wouldn’t it be nice to have Strasburg available for your fantasy baseball playoffs?

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