What the hell is wrong with the Washington Nationals? Jon Morosi reports that Stephen Strasburg, whose inability to start today’s Game 4 against the Cubs has been the subject of a brewing shitstorm, is now in fact likely to be taking the mound.
If you haven’t kept up with this saga, the short version is this: Dusty Baker originally said that Strasburg couldn’t pitch today because he threw a bullpen on Tuesday. That turned out to be untrue, and it was later revealed that an illness was keeping Strasburg off the mound. Then Bob Nightengale reported that it was Strasburg himself, not the team, that decided he shouldn’t pitch while sick. Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, today told Morosi that Strasburg had “flulike symptoms” yesterday, and now, after all of that, Strasburg will take the mound tonight in Chicago.
The ultimate outcome here—the Nationals starting a perhaps psychologically shaken pitcher with apparent lung or “flulike” issues in an elimination game against the Cubs on a cold, cloudy, and typically windy day in Chicago—does not seem like an ideal one for the Nats. But maybe that’s still better than starting Tanner Roark, then counting on a bullpen elongated by Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer to get through to the ninth inning for Sean Doolittle, if Dusty decides to use him.
Maybe Strasburg will throw a gem, maybe he’ll throw a dud. Since this is a D.C. sports franchise, the most painful outcome seems like the likeliest one. Which means Strasburg will throw seven scoreless innings and strike out 12, and the Nats will lose behind Trea Turner going 0-for the series and Baker mismanaging the bullpen.