Some games are given to you. Some games are taken. Two nights ago, the Mets gave the Nats a win putting thirteen men on base without making them get a hit, while barely working the staff to the tune of 131 pitches over 9. Last night, the Nats took the win, pounding out 8 hits in 2 2/3 innings while Strasburg & company struck out 14 Mets and allowed no XBH. Last night was the type of win you want to see. A complete victory full of hard hit balls and dominant pitching. Now the Nats have a solid lead on the Mets and have a chance to put even more space between the two teams with a series at home coming up after this weekend. For the moment the pressure is all on the Mets.
Strasburg again came up strong with a solid game. Personally I think the change we've seen in the past 120 innings of his career is about accepting the type of pitcher he is. Strasburg strikes out a lot of guys. That's who he is. The Nats wanted to change that a bit. They wanted him to tone down on the K's a little, get more weak contact, last longer into games. That's great in theory but in practice it took away Strasburg's strength. While by no means bad, his performances in 2013, 2014 and the first four months of 2015 were to me a step behind what he did in 2010, 2012, the last two months of 2015, and what he's doing now. Maybe this means he doesn't go 8 innings. That's up to the Nats. But I'll take 6 innings of this guy every day.
But god forbid we take anything about Strasburg and not make it a memorandum on something bigger. Last night and today we're hearing more and more "shutdown" talk, as Strasburg, who was shutdown, looked great while Harvey, who wasn't, looked terrible. I don't like repeating myself but when the world does not listen, or understands but willfully ignores for the sake of a story, I have to keep yelling.
WE KNOW NOTHING! WE COULD NEVER KNOW ANYTHING!
If Strasburg wasn't shutdown maybe the Nats win the series, maybe they lose the DS in 3. Maybe he pitches the same as he is now, maybe worse, maybe better. WE DON'T KNOW
If Harvey was shutdown maybe the Mets get knocked out earlier, or maybe they win it all. Maybe he pitches the same as he is now, maybe worse, maybe better. WE DON'T KNOW
Let me repeat
WE KNOW NOTHING! WE COULD NEVER KNOW ANYTHING! IT'S CALLING A COIN FLIP INTO THE OCEAN. GUESSING THE TOP CARD, THEN THROWING THE DECK INTO A FIRE!
The GMs with their gut don't know. The agents with their binders don't know. The players, the very people who's arms we are talking about, don't know. And the media and us? HAHAHAHAHA. We REALLY don't know.
Arrgh. It's so frustrating. In part because those talking on either side of the shutdown talk with such conviction, be it the two-thirds who say "keep pitching" or the one-third who say "protect the arm". They are so sure of themselves, that their way is the right way, when assuredness should be nowhere near this conversation.
All you can do is make a guess on what's the best course of action and hope it works out. There isn't even a good chance for being right in hindsight here. You pinch hit Tyler Moore and he comes up with the winning hit, while it might not have been the optimal choice at the time, in reality it was "a" right choice. It worked. Nothing else matters for that team in that moment. Well for the shutdown "it worked" boils down to winning the World Series and having the pitcher be healthy for years. Good luck getting that to happen.
Even more annoying is the sense that the one-third are changing the way to look at shutdowns entirely. Strasburg is pitching better than Harvey. Therefore the shutdown worked. Harvey's playoff performance somehow becomes inconsequential. That's just luck. The long term performance is what really comes from the shutdown. Not only then do people who say this think the decision to shutdown was right, they think the decision to shutdown CAN'T BE WRONG. In essence, they are infallible. It's insanity.
I'm angering up the blood over here. Look I was for the shutdown. Made sense at the time. Glad to see he's stayed healthy and pitched well. THE END.