Mets Pitchers Are The Opposite of Stephen Strasburg
Yesterday, it was announced that with the Nationals season on the line, Stephen Strasburg was not going to take the ball in Game 4. There were a number of reasons cited for him missing the start on normal rest from his being off his routine, his being sick, and his not feeling prepared to pitch.
It is astonishing that Strasburg isn’t taking the ball in this spot. It was his opportunity to exercise the demons of 2012 when he was shut down on the eve of the postseason because he hit his innings limit. It was his opportunity to help save his team’s season when arguably he was the best pitcher suited to it.
The optics of the moment certainly aren’t good. That goes double when you consider an injured Max Scherzer is chomping at the bit to get into the game to help his team get to the NLCS. On top of that, Scherzer will only be on just one day of rest.
Again, Strasburg looks bad here.
Now, there is the caveat that Strasburg could really be that sick, or the team could be concealing some type of injury. Time and again, we have all been given lessons why we shouldn’t question an athlete when they say they can’t go. The most tragic of those circumstances was J.R. Richard. People questioned Richard and derided him, and so Richard pitched. That is until Richard suffered a stroke.
Still, even with the lessons we have learned with Richard, we all question Strasburg because there is a history here. Seeing what is happening with Strasburg, Mets fans should appreciate their pitchers all the more.
Back in 2015, with the same agent and predicament as Strasburg, Matt Harvey took the ball. He won a pivotal Game 3 in the NLDS. He set the tone in the NLCS with a dominating Game 1. He came so close to forcing a Game 6 with a brilliant Game 5 performance. Ironically, one of the lasting images of that postseason was Harvey demanding the ball.
It’s something we have seen with this entire Mets staff. Noah Syndergaard refused an MRI and instead insisting on pitching against the Nationals. Jacob deGrom ignored the pain as long as he could until he had to have season ending surgery. Steven Matz has done nothing but pitch through pain and injury in his Mets career.
Each one of these Mets pitchers demand the ball even when they should have taken a step back and done what was best for their careers. Who is to say the Mets pitchers are right and Strasburg is wrong. Players only have a limited time to play professional baseball and by extension to earn money. With each injury, their earning power goes down. Strasburg, who took the time off, received a seven year $175 million contract extension. There were at least discussions whether Harvey would be non-tendered.
So, maybe Strasburg is in the right here for doing what is best for him physically. However, while that may be true, it could go a long way in explaining why he’s never been out of the NLDS. It’s why he may never experience the glory we have seen Harvey experience in the postseason.