The Nationals opted to sit Stephen Strasburg and watched a 6-0 lead slip away in the decisive game of the playoffs, and the Redskins chose to play Robert Griffin III and may find out Wednesday if the injury he sustained is an ACL that would make him miss next season. There are no easy decisions once you are a contender.
Both players waited until the signing deadline to sign four year deals.
Strasburg set a rookie record with a 4-year, $15 million deal and will reportedly get a one-year extension for next year at $3.9 million. Griffin received a rarity in a completely guaranteed NFL contract for more than $21 million. The trajectory over a full career with enormous endorsement deals would multiply these salaries several fold.
No coach or GM would willingly risk the long-term productivity of a player for one game – no matter how big. While many promising careers have ended early, but they have almost always come on sudden events that were not the result of playing hurt. Bo Jackson’s knee going as he pulled away, Dickie Thon of the Astros being beaned only 17 at bats after a dominant first season, Allen Houston going down with the Knicks or Steve Moore for the Colorado Avalanche – the fact is throwing a baseball 90+ mph is not normal for an elbow, nor is having 300-pounders try to physically stop you.
The fact is the Redskins can only hope for a full recovery just as the Nationals can hope that holding down Strasburg’s initial innings can give him a long career like Nolan Ryan, whose innings were low only because his control was so bad in his early years. Both teams had capable options in back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins and other strong starting pitchers. However, the fact is that the Redskins probably needed Griffin on the field to beat the Cowboys and make the playoffs, and he was probably the only chance they had against the hottest team in the NFL when the Seahawks came to town.
|Redskins QBs||Comp||Att||Pct||Yds||Avg||TD||Int||Sck||Rate||Rush Yds||Rush Ave||TD|
|Robert Griffin III||258||393||65.6||3200||8.1||20||5||30||102.4||815||6.8||7|
Cousins earned the same 102 passer rating as Griffin, but that was mainly against a very poor defense in the Cleveland Browns. In the playoff game itself, RG3’s passer rating was almost twice as high as Cousins’. Likewise, the Nationals had plenty of great pitching, but when you look at the way Game Two slipped away and then the collapse in Game 5, you do have to believe Strasburg would have been a great option.
|Pitched in||Pitcher||W||L||W%||ERA||BB||SO||K/W ratio||WHIP|
|L9-7 Gm5||Clippard, T||2||6||25%||3.72||29||84||2.90||1.16|
|L9-7 Gm5||Gonzalez, G||21||8||72%||2.89||76||207||2.72||1.13|
|L9-7 Gm5||Jackson, E||10||11||48%||4.03||58||168||2.90||1.22|
|L9-7 Gm5||Storen, D||3||1||75%||2.37||8||24||3.00||0.99|
|L 12-4 Gm2||Burnett, S||1||2||33%||2.38||12||57||4.75||1.24|
|L 12-4 Gm2||Gonzalez, M||0||0||NA||3.03||16||39||2.44||1.32|
|L 12-4 Gm2||Stammen, C||6||1||86%||2.34||36||87||2.42||1.2|
|L 12-4 Gm2||Zimmermann, J||12||8||60%||2.94||43||153||3.56||1.17|
Strasburg and Geo Gonzalez were the only two Nationals pitchers to win 70% of their starts, and both had an unbelievable WHIP for a starter. However, Strasburg’s 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio is unheard of for a starter, so he certainly could have been the difference in not letting the 6-0 lead slip away in Game 5 of the playoffs. So the Nationals made the playoffs without Strasburg but may have made it through the first round if he had played. Griffin probably enabled the Redskins to make the playoffs. However, both franchises prepared well with strong alternatives to give them the option to sit either star, or continue to win games when and if they cannot play. The Capitol will hope for long careers for both.