Stephen Strasburg could've been the difference last postseason, his manager said. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson thinks his team could have beaten the St. Louis Cardinals and possibly won the World Series last season if ace Stephen Strasburg hadn't been shut down.
The decision to end Strasburg's season early was controversial at the time. The Nationals looked like a contender, but the team chose to play it safe with Strasburg in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. At the time, Johnson said he supported the decision.
The manager was asked during an interview Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan how the 2012 season might have turned out if Strasburg had pitched (via CSNWashington's Chase Hughes). Would Washington have beaten St. Louis in the National League Division Series instead of losing in five games?
“I just say probably," he said. Johnson also pointed out that the Nationals were 5-1 against the eventual World Series champion Giants during the regular season.
The questions came after The Washington Post's John Feinstein suggested in a column that the decision to shut down Strasburg is still haunting the team - that it's the reason the Nationals underachieved in 2013. (Johnson referred to Feinstein as "an idiot" in the interview with The Fan.)
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We'll never know what Strasburg's impact would have been. The decision was made with Strasburg's - and the franchise's - future in mind. It will take years to know if the team made the right call, if it can ever be determined. But it seems likely the decision will continue to hang over the franchise for the time being.