Nationals' trade strategy suggests 170-inning limit for Strasburg

It appears that Stephen Strasburg's long-secret innings limit will be somewhere around 170.

The Nationals have been searching for a back-end starter on the trade market, and they're telling teams that they only need someone to make about three starts once Strasburg is shut down. Strasburg has thrown 117 1/3 innings, heading into Tuesday night's start against the Phillies.

If Strasburg started every fifth game to the end of the year, his spot would come up 12 times. If he makes nine of those starts and continues to average about six innings, as he has, he would end up at right around 170 innings.

The Nationals had some talks about adding a higher-end starter, but now appear focused simply on someone who could fill the three or so starts that Strasburg would miss. Their top three starters in the playoffs would still be Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson.

The Nationals have never said exactly how many innings they would allow Strasburg to pitch, but they have consistently said that he wouldn't be allowed to make it through the full season. Earlier speculation had been that the limit would be around 160 innings.

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