In 2012 when the Nationals decided to shut ace starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg down just weeks before the playoffs, it created one heck of a debate around baseball. For months as the Nats sat in first place and 160 innings approached, it dominated sports talk radio and was a mainstay in the national conversation.
As one probably could have predicted, we are still citing the Nationals' decision even two years after the fact. Recently it was former Nats player Michael Morse who offered thoughts on the issue. And on Thursday another reference to the debate surfaced.
The Miami Marlins, in fact, are hoping to avoid what happened to Strasburg and the Nationals in 2012 with top prospect Andrew Heaney. He's the best lefty pitching prospect in baseball and is dominating at Triple-A New Orleans. The Marlins plan to adjust his pitching schedule so that they will not have to shut him down by the end of the year.
Here is what Clark Spencer wrote in the Miami Herald on Thursday:
"We decided a few weeks ago we were going to skip a start here and there (with Heaney)," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "This is the first of several. We'll probably do this again in July and one more time in August."
...The Marlins want to avoid a situation like the one involving Stephen Strasburg in 2012 when the Nationals' pitcher was shut down in early September even though the team was still in contention and reached the postseason.
The Marlins are currently in third place in the NL East despite losing Jose Fernandez earlier this season to Tommy John surgery. They have been a surprise team this year with a 34-31 record and an MLB-best 22-11 mark at home.
Less than half of the season has been played, but the Marlins evidently like their chances to make a playoff push. If the season were to end today, the Marlins would earn the final NL Wild Card spot and play the Braves in a one-game playoff.
Of course, the situation isn't quite the same because Strasburg was returning from Tommy John surgery. If Strasburg had not undergone the procedure, and it was just about a team-imposed innings limit for a young arm, perhaps they would have handled it differently. We'll see if it works out for the Marlins.