The Strasburg Dilemma II: What Could Have Been?After three games, the Washington Nationals face elimination. In Game 1 of the National League Division Series (NLDS), the Nationals rallied in the top of the eighth inning to defeat the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2. Since then, the Nationals have come up short. The Cardinals routed they in Game 2 (12-4), and shut them down in Game 3 this afternoon (8-0).
Perhaps one player wouldn't have altered the complexion of the series, but how different would this series be in management didn't shutdown Stephen Strasburg in mid-September? Since the beginning of the 2012 regular season campaign, the Nationals remained true to their word that Strasburg would log an unspecified inning total and would call it a year.
During Game 1, the Nationals started Gio Gonzalez. He pitched five innings allowed two earned runs on one hit. He walked seven. Jordan Zimmerman did fare as well in Game 2. He surrendered five earned runs in only three innings of work. While he didn't walk anyone, he allowed seven hits including a home run during that short stint. This afternoon, Edwin Jackson allowed four earned runs on eight hits of the course of five innings.
Would Strasberg (15-6, 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) have made a difference? It's hard to say. On Thursday, the Nationals will fight to stay alive and force a fifth and deciding game in the District of Columbia.