And they have their convictions.
Rizzo has been criticized for his decision to shut down Strasburg. It has been the one media firestorm in this joyous season in Washington.
But the choice was made, the shutdown complete. So the players have to believe that, Strasburg or no Strasburg, they can do what they came to do at the start of the season. As pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said, “I don’t see us being any weaker with or without him.”
“We’re committed to it,” Rizzo said. “Is it an easy thing to do? No. Have we taken a lot of heat for it? Yes. And if I had a chance to do it over again, would I still do it? Most definitely.”
And that is why, as Johnson put it, this season, this team is “the Mike Rizzo story.”
“He’s an awfully good baseball man,” Johnson said. “The proof is in the pudding.”
It’s in the young players and the veterans, the mix that has yielded a historic season for the Nationals. It’s in the offense that never allows the team to be out of a game. It’s in the belief that they have, the confidence and momentum.
And, especially, it’s in the rotation that Rizzo has constructed — guys such as Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson.
“As my old boss Stan Kasten once told me, once you develop your own starting rotation, anything is possible,” Rizzo said. “And until you do, nothing is possible.”
The Nationals have that. They have a starting rotation and a lineup and a stable of young talent that has gotten them to their first postseason in Washington.
They have belief. They are “a relentless group,” as LaRoche put it. They are on the brink of a run that could bring a title to the nation’s capital, even without their ace, relying on a star the age of a college sophomore.
For the Nationals, right now, anything is possible.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.