Nationals star comes under criticism for not taking the ball
Tuesday afternoon it was a must-win game 4 with Tanner Roark on the mound against the hometown Cubs and Jake Arrieta with Chicago up 2 games to 1. But as we all know now there was a rainout with that set up an extra day allowing the Nationals to throw game one star Stephen Strasburg, but he won’t take the mound because of breathing issues due to mold.
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Strasburg told the team that he would “give them all he had,” leaving the decision up to the Nationals brain trust. After about a 30-minute conversation Manager Dusty Baker, General Manager Mike Rizzo, and pitching coach Mike Maddux — concluded what he had would not be much.
“Didn’t work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we’re all creatures of habit,” Baker said in his news conference after the game was called. “… Stras, it would have been better because he’s feeling under the weather like a lot of my team is.”
Nationally, there was plenty of former players who could not believe that unless Strasburg was in the hospital then he should be on the mound. Locally, sports talk radio started at 5 am and the Nationals fans were stunned by the news.
Right now no one has heard from Strasburg and that might help understand why he does not want the ball. We will likely see him before the end of the day why he is not on the mound today.
Baker told reporters Strasburg was “under the weather.”
“A lot of my team is under the weather with the change of weather and the air conditioning in the hotel and the air conditioning here,” said Baker, who added the team had to change hotels Tuesday after the rainout because theirs didn’t have enough rooms to accommodate them for the extra night in Chicago. “It’s just this time of the year for mold around Chicago — I think it’s mold. I mean, I have it, too.”
Strasburg was the hard-luck loser in game 1 of the NLDS as the Cubs won 3-0. He dominated, the Cubs pitching seven innings in which he struck out 10 and gave up two unearned runs. Most people in the organization thought that game 5 would go to Strasburg back in Washington.
While Strasburg could have gone today it now looks like he will be back on the hill in game 5 – if the Nationals win-which is not a given. Meanwhile, Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez told Baker that they could go today if needed.
It remains possible that Strasburg will pitch today but Roark, who is from Wilmington, Ill about 80 miles south of Chicago and grew up a Cubs fan as a kid. Roark has pitched well against the Cubs, they are batting just .215 with five home runs and a .710 OPS against blue-collar right-hander. Kris Bryant (.455 with a home run) has had the most success against him. While, Jason Heyward is 0-for-18 against Roark, while Anthony Rizzo is 4-for-18.
Arrieta hasn’t pitched since Sept. 26, when he lasted just three innings and allowed five runs (three earned) and six hits in an 8-7 loss in St. Louis. Arrieta hopes he’ll have more success against the Nationals this time around. In his only start against them this season, on June 27 in Washington, he allowed six runs (five earned), six hits and walked six in four innings of a 6-1 loss.
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