The Nationals have ended ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s season one start earlier than expected. Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement on Saturday morning.
Strasburg struggled in his final start on Friday night, a career-low three-inning effort against the Miami Marlins where he allowed five earned runs. Afterwards, Johnson said he believed the unrelenting media attention on Strasburg’s impending shutdown – a plan the team has held to all season – finally became too much for the 24-year-old. He was scheduled to start for the final time this season on Wednesday in New York against the Mets. That start will now go to John Lannan.
Johnson said he made the call after consulting with general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty, who also said Friday night that he sensed a lack of focus from Strasburg. They informed Strasburg of the decision on Saturday morning.
Johnson told reporters that Strasburg was having trouble sleeping and felt he was letting his teammates down. The pitcher later denied that and his teammates backed him up. But what the team was seeing on the mound belied his claims.
“He’s emotional about it. He’s a competitor. He’s one heck of a pitcher and one heck of a competitor,” Johnson said. “But I know he’s been struggling with it for weeks and I know he doesn’t sleep good thinking about it.”
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