|Stephen Strasburg has thrown 133 1/3 innings in 2012. (Associated Press)|
No matter what happens, Stephen Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason, general manager Mike Rizzo told Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com.
Friday there was some talk about the exact inning limit the Nationals have for Strasburg, but Zuckerman writes that Rizzo reiterated the team's philosophy regarding Strasburg has not changed at all -- there is no exact inning limit (although it likely will fall between 160-180 innings), Rizzo will make the final call, that point will come sometime during the regular season and once he is shut down, he will not pitch for the team again in 2012. That's been the plan since February and just because the Nationals became the first team in the big leagues to win 70 games on Friday behind Strasburg and find themselves 4 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta in the National League East, the plan will not change.
Following Friday's six-inning, 104-pitch effort against the Diamondbacks, Strasburg has thrown 133 1/3 innings and 2,165 pitches this season
The plan is similar to the one the team had for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann last season. Zimmermann was shut down after 161 1/3 innings (and 2,464 pitches). The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-6 with a 2.35 this season. Last year he finished 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA in 26 starts.
While the strategy seemed to work for Zimmermann, the Nationals had just lost their 70th game of the season and were 22 1/2 games out of first in the NL East following Zimmermann's final start of 2011, a loss to the Reds on Aug. 28.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about the Nationals' plan for Strasburg, but the one man whose name is mentioned in just about everything written about Strasburg for the last two seasons understands the Nationals' strategy, even if he doesn't agree with it.
"They have a lot of money invested in him and are erring on the side of caution. Is it right? I personally don't think so," Tommy John -- the man, not the surgery -- told the Hall of Very Good. "After I had [surgery], the only way we knew to get my arm stronger was to throw. So I threw every day. And the more I threw … the better my arm felt. I never missed a start in the 13 years after arm surgery because of my arm being sore or stiff because I threw off a mound to a catcher every single day."
John, who appeared in three World Series after his groundbreaking 1975 surgery, said the playoff absence is one of the biggest reasons he disagrees with the decision.
"It'll be hard to tell the other 24 guys on the ballclub, 'You busted your ass and we're not going to pitch our best pitcher the last month of the season,'" John told the blog. "If I was Strasburg, I'd be lobbying to pitch. What you play for all season is to pitch in the postseason."