Nationals

Quick Links

Stephen Strasburg's shutdown is the No. 17 moment in the Big Twenty

Stephen Strasburg's shutdown is the No. 17 moment in the Big Twenty

For the next three weeks, NBC Sports Washington will be rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 17.

Scott Boras sat on a stage in San Diego more than seven years later and began to gloat. 

“I think there always has to be that trust factor that exists between an organization and a player,” Boras said at the Winter Meetings. “I think the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg built a trust based upon an early position by Ted Lerner and the Washington organization and Mike Rizzo about the protection of a player.”

Boras was referencing the infamous Strasburg Shutdown of 2012. Nationals fans latched onto the organization’s decision to not pitch the phenom in the postseason from the moment it was made. The decision was often disparaged, influenced by a distinct line of thought: These chances can be fleeting, and you’re not going for it?

Media members are remembered for their stance at the time. The choice remains among the most emblematic of Mike Rizzo’s tenure as the team’s general manager. He made a hard, widely unpopular, decision about a player under team control, outside influences be damned. The decision, at least in Boras’ eyes, brought Strasburg back to the team twice, which ultimately means he will never leave.

Stephen A. Smith called the decision “disgraceful.” Rudy Giuliani took a stance. Sports talk radio blistered. The outcome was re-litigated each time Washington made the playoffs after 2012 and contributed heavily to the brewing narrative focused on Strasburg’s tendency to shrink if something wasn’t just right. 

He fought this line of thinking with a season-saving performance in Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS in Chicago. His 2019 postseason work -- including being named World Series MVP -- fully dismantled the idea. In fact, The Shutdown may eventually be mentioned in a Hall of Fame acceptance speech or at least at a jersey retirement ceremony a decade from now. 

“I think that Stephen Strasburg has rewarded the Nationals with a championship, his performance, a World Series MVP because of the position that this organization took to take the medical advice and protect the player long term, even though the immediate effect caused a great deal of angst among the club and the fans,” Boras said.

The Shutdown is no longer a pejorative. In fact, providing time and space for the decision to breathe allowed the ultimate outcome to be opposite the instant assessment. The Shutdown continues to have a distinct place in Nationals history. That spot is just now, and forever, on the other side of the ledger.
 

Quick Links

Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won't be back on the mound until 2021.

"It's a freak thing that happened," manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. "I'm sorry it did."

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn't put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

"Somebody else is going to get an opportunity," Snitker said. "Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We're going to be fine."

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won't get a chance to make up for it this season.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the Nationals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen rips Marlins for not following coronavirus protocols

Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen rips Marlins for not following coronavirus protocols

When Major League Baseball began its season two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Phillies were following all of the league's protocols to conduct as safe of a season possible in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Phillies were one of two teams that went this past week without playing any games. Philadelphia had six consecutive contests postponed after the Miami Marlins, the Phillies' opening weekend opponent, had a major COVID-19 outbreak within the organization. As a result, 18 Miami players tested positive for the virus. The Phils' traveling party was required to undergo additional testing as a result.

On Sunday, Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi admitted he was frustrated by the situation, but did not blame the Marlins for the outbreak. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a different stance on the matter.

"I was upset at everything that’s transpired through that — whoever decided to step out or not necessarily follow the health and safety protocol," McCutchen said on the latest edition of The Athletic’s Starkville podcast

"That upset me. What made me angry was that we, as the Phillies — we were the ones that ended up having to pay for that," McCutchen said. "We followed all of the health and safety protocols. We knew that was important. We understood that’s what we needed to do to be able to play this game. And we did everything right. And we paid for it."

RELATED: CARDINALS SEASON POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY AFTER MULTIPLE POSITIVE TESTS

The Marlins had multiple players test positive before the opening weekend Sunday finale occurred, according to multiple reports, yet they still decided to play. Plus, some members of the Marlins organization reportedly went out in Atlanta prior to the outbreak.

For McCutchen, who missed most of the 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL, not being able to play while the rest of the league was what impacted him the most. 

“And so for me, that was upsetting. I’m sitting here at home, watching 28 to 27 to 26 other teams play, and we’re sitting at home — all (testing) negative by the way," McCutchen said. "And we have to watch this happen while we did nothing wrong. So for me, that was very upsetting. It was very upsetting that we did everything right, and we were still the ones paying for it."

Unfortunately for McCutchen and the Phillies, the team's return to action will last just one game. Philadelphia's scheduled Tuesday matchup with the Yankees has already been postponed due to incoming tropical storm Isaias.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the Nationals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: