Nationals still contenders sans Stephen Strasburg – USATODAY.com

Stephen Strasburg: shut down, no postseason, plenty of reason to be down.

Washington Nationals: soaring with the best record in baseball, looking at home-field advantage all the way through the World Series, plenty of reasons to be up and stay up.

Now that the focus finally can turn to the inevitable Nationals-without-Strasburg mini-era, there’s no reason to suddenly look at this team like you just found out it’s facing, oh, say, Tommy John elbow surgery.

Often lost in the team’s success this year is the role played by a roster that was made deeper and more talented coming into the season — certainly far deeper and more talented that high-profile wonder boys Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

Manager Davey Johnson wasn’t blowing smoke or making nice with the boss when he made his best Mike Rizzo for executive of the year pitch Friday.

Nor was Chipper Jones— he of the pretty-much-buried-in-the-division Atlanta Braves— when he talked about Washington’s pitching.

“Power arms, power arms — that’s what translates in the postseason,” Jones says. “It’s cold, guys are all wrapped up, it’s hard to center the ball when a guy throws it 100 miles an hour. And these guys have a bunch of ’em.”

Yes, Strasburg leads major league starters this season with an average 95.8 mph fastball. .

And he was none too pleased with getting shut down, telling reporters after Saturday’s 10-inning win against the Miami Marlins, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to accept it. It’s something that I’m not happy about at all. That’s not why I play the game.”

But this is about the other guys, isn’t it?

OK.

“You’re talking about Strasburg and (Jordan) Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez,” says Jones, who played on Braves teams known for their rotations. “(Ross Detwiler) can throw 93, 94. I’m sure Edwin Jackson can bring it up to 95. All the guys in their ‘pen who throw 93 and above. Show me a team with at least two power arms at the top of their rotation and I’ll show you a team that’s more than likely going to go a…

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