Can the Nats do it without Stephen Strasburg?
The nation's capital is enjoying its first taste of playoff baseball in 79 years. But that could all come to a screeching halt now that the team faces a do-or-die elimination game against the St. Louis Cardinals tomorrow night.
Of course, the first question that comes up if you're a Nats fan is, "Would things be different if Stephen Strasburg was allowed to pitch?"
Strasburg, the 2009 #1 draft pick and the best Nats pitcher by a lot, was shut down in the regular season by team General Manager Mike Rizzo after pitching nearly 160 innings this year. The Nationals want to be very careful with their prized pitcher who is coming off major arm surgery.
As Rizzo said, "We'll be back, and doing this a couple more times.''
But will they? There are no guarantees in sports. Injuries happen. Overachievers regress. Opponents figure out your weaknesses. Why wouldn't the Nats put themselves in the best position to win when given the chance?
Many baseball fans say the Washington Nationals deliberately left their best stuff at home. It's not unlike the criticism President Obama received for not taking it to Mitt Romney (or talking up his own achievements) in their first debate meeting.
President Obama says it was a bad night and he's moving on to the next game. His supporters are hoping he's right.
The Washington Nationals are maintaining a similar mindset. They displayed a clear-headed focus tonight with a dramatic 9th inning victory. But win or lose tomorrow, the players and staff will always have to wonder if they would have been better off getting the job done by using their best weapon.
What do you think? Can the Nationals stay in the playoff hunt without their best pitcher?
-Brendan McDonald, Segment Producer