Nationals' $175 million pitcher now expected to start playoff game after heavy criticism

Business Insider | 10/11/2017 | Sam Belden
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After weathering criticisms from baseball figures, politicians, and fans alike, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is expected to start Wednesday's win-or-go-home game against the Chicago Cubs, a reversal from the decision announced by manager Dusty Baker less than 24 hours ago.

After starting Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Max Scherzer in the first three games of their best-of-five National League Division Series, the Nationals were set to trot out Tanner Roark for Game 4, but when the Tuesday contest was postponed due to rain, it appeared to be a major stroke of luck for the team. Trailing 2-1 in the series, they could increase their chances of beating the Cubs by penciling in Strasburg, who would be on normal rest for a Wednesday start.

Baker - Commitment - Roark - Media - Tuesday

But instead, Baker reiterated his commitment to Roark when speaking to the media on Tuesday. While he stated that the choice was made because Strasburg had thrown a bullpen session on Tuesday, a team spokesman later said that Baker "misspoke" and that their ace would be on the bench because "he’s under the weather and his endurance is down," per Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.

While Roark has posted a solid 3.90 ERA since July 16, Strasburg is one of the best pitchers in baseball, with regular season numbers like a 2.52 ERA, 204 strikeouts, and 6.5 Wins Above Replacement to prove it. What's more, the Nationals signed Strasburg to a $175 million contract extension in May 2016, presumably with the expectation that he would be there to start crucial postseason games.

Decision - Roark - Opportunity - Nationals - Reactions

The decision to roll with Roark looked like a huge missed opportunity for the Nationals. It drew strong reactions from around the game, with a number of respected baseball...
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