Former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone appeared on a St. Louis radio program on Tuesday and was critical of the Nationals for their decision to shut down pitcher Stephen Strasburg prior to the postseason.
Washington is going without its star right-hander in the National League Division Series against the Cardinals, which is tied at 1 heading into Wednesday's Game 3. St. Louis battered Game 2 starter Jordan Zimmermann to even the series and will face Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler in the next two contests.
"Every team has two great starters that are gonna knock heads," Mazzone told KFNS 590 The Fan. "But losing Strasburg changes everything in the No. 3 and No. 4 hole. That's what you've got to look at. And basically I think it's the dumbest thing I've ever seen a Major League team do in my entire career, and I hope they pay the price for it. Because that's just not right."
Mazzone supervised many great Braves staffs from 1990 to 2005 and then spent two seasons with the Orioles.
Back in August, before the Nationals followed through on their plan to end Strasburg's season early, Mazzone called the idea "absolutely pathetic," while speaking on a different radio program. He continued that criticism on Tuesday, saying, "I guess [the Nationals] didn't figure on winning," when they announced their plan early in the year.
"I think it's a lousy message that you send to your team, it's a lousy message that you send to your fans," Mazzone said. "And I think it's not a health issue. There was nothing wrong with Strasburg when they shut him down. He was extremely strong at that point in the season."
Mazzone stated his belief that an innings count is much less important to a pitcher's health than throwing with "less exertion."
The 24-year-old Strasburg, coming off Tommy John surgery, pitched 159 1/3 innings and made his last start on Sept. 7.