“We have to decide…what’s good for the team.” Talk #Nats

Playing hindsight seems like cheating, and “armchair managers” play that game to perfection all the time. They will tell you they knew Don Mattingly should have pulled Adam Conley after the 6th inning last night as he was tiring in a 0-0 game.

Managers have to manage in real-time with foresight, and there are a myriad of variables that factor into each decision. When a decision does not go right, managers will be criticized in hindsight by fans, media, and even their bosses. Baseball managers in the organizational charts report directly to the General Manager, and GM’s get to criticize in hindsight also. That is the way it works. It might not be fair, but that is the way it is.

Dusty Baker cannot apply the same level of standards to a 22 year old pitcher as he would to a 27 year old veteran pitcher. Between 5 days, Baker had 2 pitchers vying for shutouts in blowout games, and neither situation was exactly the same even though the pitch counts were exactly the same.

This was debated for hours on Talk Nats after Joe Ross pitched a meaningless 8th inning on Friday night.

“We have a long stretch of games here,” Dusty Baker said after Tuesday’s game. “So we want to preserve [Strasburg] for the year even though you want your pitcher to get a shutout. Not that often that you get ’em, but we have to decide what’s good for [Strasburg] and what’s good for the team.”

Does this signal a change in team philosophy a few days after leaving Joe Ross in a blowout game? Flashback to Friday, in Joe Ross’ last start he had a pitch count of 93 in a 9-0 Nats blowout through 7 innings, and Dusty Baker brought Ross back out for the 8th inning while Yusmeiro Petit was warming up in the bullpen. Ross threw 14 pitches in the 8th inning and was pulled after giving up a hit, and would not get through the 8th inning.

Strasburg last night was pulled at 105 pitches, and Joe Ross on Friday was pulled at 107 pitches. Wouldn’t you know last night that Stephen Strasburg was sitting at just 93 pitches after the 7th inning of a blow-out 7-0 game in almost the same statistical situation as Joe Ross 5 days earlier as both were at 93 pitches at the end of the 7th inning.

These situations were apples and oranges. Joe Ross last year got fatigued and made his final start of the 2015 season on September 6th. Ross said after the season his legs were fatigued, and it was the most innings he had ever thrown in a season.

Ross threw a combined 152 2/3 innings last year between the Minors and Majors which was more than 30 innings over his previous high in innings from 2013. Ross will be on an innings limit in 2016, and that number is not known at this time.

Stephen Strasburg was shutdown at 159 1/3 innings in 2012. In 2013, Strasburg would skip 2 starts in September and finish the season at 183 innings. In 2014, Rizzo said Strasburg had no innings limit and he pitched 215 innings plus 5 innings in his first post-season.

Strasburg has no innings limit this year; however, that does not mean you have Strasburg pitch meaningless innings in April for personal accomplishments and that was evident by Dusty Baker’s comments after last night’s game. Because of injuries in 2015, Strasburg only pitched 127 1/3 innings in 2015.

The Nats are playing for a 7 month season to extend long beyond when summer turns to autumn. That is the big picture.

“We have to decide…what’s good for the team.”

Hindsight 20/20. What do you say Boz?

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