Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is adimant, and has been all season, that the team’s ace, Stephen Strasburg will sit when he reaches a certain amount of innings.
Whether you agree with his decision or not, it’s pretty damned unprecedented to even consider sitting your best player for good in the midst of a championship run unless he was injured.
Pitchers, though, have been shut down in their rookie/sophomore seasons. It happened to CC Sabathia, but his team wasn’t contending for a penant, let alone a championship.
What would this situation possibly look like in another sport? Would the Redskins consider shutting down RG3 if they were at the top of the NFC East in week 14 if he had been hit a certain number of times, made a certain number of throws, or ran for a certain amount of yards?
Since this is a website about basketball, though, what would the Stephen Strasburg situation look like in, say, New Orleans, if Anthony Davis was leading the team up the standings in the Western Conference.
No one thinks they have a chance at the playoffs, let alone a title, but, then again, who the hell though the Nationals would compete for a playoff spot?
What if Anthony Davis works 24/7 on his offense until the season starts, and that part of his game equals his defensive prowess. Unlikely, but possible.
What if he’s a 20 point, 15 rebound, three block player every night? Those are All NBA, All Star stats right there.
What if Eric Gordon turns the corner and lives up to the max contract he signed?
What if Austin Rivers can competently run the Hornets’ offense?
What if all this happens, the Hornets are in the hunt for a top four seed in the Western Conference playoffs at the end of the year, but Anthony Davis has logged 40 minutes per game with three or four weeks left in the season?
Forget sitting him for good. Would the Hornets even consider giving him a few nights off or limiting his minutes if it meant they might slide to the bottom half of the Conference and risk playing the Lakers, Thunder or Spurs in the first round?
Blake Griffin has been injury prone his first three years in the league. Greg Oden never amounted to anything because of injuries. You don’t know the names of plenty of other big men picked in the lottery, because their entire careers were lost or hampered by injuries.
If limiting Davis’s minutes means keeping him healthy for the future, why shouldn’t New Orleans consider it?
Your answer is probably, “Because that’s stupid, and why are you asking all these questions?”
My answer is, “Why not? The Washington Nationals could win a World Series this year and they’re not budging on the fact that they will completely shut down their best player, probably before the playoffs start.”
Again, it’s not going to happen, but it’s interesting to think about how this situation would play out in another sport nonetheless.