Stephen Strasburg is a long-term investment for the Nationals. The best thing to do with your long-term investments — especially when they are only 23 years old and have some of the nastiest stuff in the league — is to protect them. Washington had itself a scare last season when Strasburg needed Tommy John surgery, but he has bounced back extremely well. The right-hander has a 9-4 record to go along with an impressive 2.82 ERA. He is tied for the Major League lead with 128 strikeouts. Believe it or not, the success he has been having could create a major problem for the Nats later in the year.
Since he has come back from major surgery and has a long career ahead of him, the Nationals have decided to limit Strasburg to 160 innings this season. He has thrown 99 already, and Washington leads the NL East by four games over the Braves. What will they do if they end up in a pennant race?
“They’re going to have to rip the ball out of my hands,” Strasburg told MLB Network Radio according to ESPN.com. “I have no clue how many innings I’m going to throw this year. I’ve answered that question multiple times, and nobody’s said anything to me. I feel great right now.”
If GM Mike Rizzo and the Nationals stick to their word, Strasburg is on pace to be shut down at the beginning of September. That means he would not be able to pitch in the all-important final two weeks of the season and would not be available for the playoffs. From a health standpoint, it might be the smart thing to do. From a PR standpoint, the Nationals had better prepare to fireproof their stadium somehow. Because if they shut down their ace and wind up missing the playoffs or being bounced early because of it, Washington fans just may burn that baby to the ground.
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