As the Nationals continue to roll through the regular season and charge toward the playoffs, there is one rather large dark cloud hanging over the organization. Stephen Strasburg is on an innings cap. The right-hander has been nothing short of dominant throughout most of his 133 innings this season, but all signs point to Washington GM Mike Rizzo sticking to the plan and limiting Strasburg to somewhere between 160 and 180 innings.
According to the MLB.com blog All Nats All the Time, Strasburg is expected to miss two or three regular season starts and be shut down before the postseason.
Strasburg, who is on an innings limit after having Tommy John surgery in late 2010, more than likely will pitch no more than 180 innings this season. There was talk of Strasburg pitching 160 innings this year, but the source said those amount of innings are not set in stone.
The same source went so far as to say Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.
That is a frightening thought for Nationals fans. We know how important pitching is in the postseason and we know how important Strasburg has been to their pitching staff. The 24-year-old already made it clear that the coaches are going to have to pry the ball from his fingers if they want to shut it down, but it sounds like they intend to do just that. John Smoltz recommended an interesting approach that Strasburg could take to extend his season, but at this point it doesn’t like like he intends to take that advice.
Could this simply be a smokescreen for the rest of the NL? It’s possible, but it doesn’t sound like it. The Nationals came into the season with a plan, and it is starting to look like they will stick to it. It will be interesting to see if pressure from the media and fans alters their approach late in September.
H/T Hardball Talk
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