Steven Strasburg in injured again and the Nats front office has a decision to make. Or does it? In a completely logical world they wouldn't. If Strasburg is deemed healthy post-MRI, he would pitch. End of story. That's what healthy pitchers do.
However, this isn't a logical world and the guys in charge know they will be slow-roasted over chunks of hickory wood if Strasburg goes out to pitch again this year and injures himself for the third time. Whether he can pitch or not is irrelevant. This is the most important piece of the Nats' future. You treat him differently. This is a lost year. It doesn't matter if he pitches now or not. The team thought he was fine twice before and twice before he's tweaked himself. Why wait for that 3rd time?
Are these valid arguments? Yes, Strasburg is a huge piece of the Nats future but he's going to have to pitch through pain sooner or later. At some point you do have to treat him like everyone else so I don't like starting out with different rules for him. I think it sets a bad precedent. Now, if you combine "most important Nat" with "completely unimportant games" the argument for shutting down does get pretty enticing. But again, I feel like it would be the sign of an extreme bunker mentality to try to put Strasburg back in his original wrapping if he was deemed healthy enough to go. If he can pitch, he should.
However, I can see the Nats feeling like their doctors have not answered the question of "can he pitch?" with enough conviction to send him back out there. Or in other words - I can see the Nats not trusting the team doctors. There has been several injury situations with the Nats where things seemingly got much worse in the face of the doctor's diagnosis. Let's not forget that Jesus Flores was originally scheduled to be back from injury and playing full time in mid May... of 2009. So, I can see a situation where Strasburg gets the green light from the docs but the front office holds him back anyway, leery based on the mixed results of such "OK"s in the past. That would be fine. Of course then they would have to fire the entire medical staff, because if you don't trust their opinions then they shouldn't be working for you.
The easiest thing for the Nats would be if there is something slightly wrong with Strasburg. Mild inflammation or something where he'd have to miss a few starts and they can say there's no real point to rehab him on a normal schedule just so he can pitch 2 or 3 more times. I think everyone would agree a conservative rehab would be best. However, if he is ready to go right now the Nats face a decision. It's not a difficult one. Fans, media members, and most importantly the fate of their jobs, all say shut Strasburg down. Only cold robot logic and possibly Jim Bunning say keep pitching him. That's not much of a choice at all.