Stephen Strasburg is the most dominant pitcher on baseball’s most surprising team, the Washington Nationals, but the right-hander will be off the roster come playoff time.
The decision to limit Strasburg’s innings for the year has been set by Natonals’ brass since before the season began, the result of Tommy John surgery, USA Today reported. There was only one thing the plan failed to take into account — the team jumped out to a blistering start and just kept winning, and now is poised to make the playoffs for the first time.
The All-Star Strasburg is being limited to a specific number of innings this year, and though the team hasn’t disclosed exactly what number it is believed he will stop somewhere between 160 and 180 innings. Stephen Strasburg has pitched just over 133 innings for far this year, earning a 13-5 record and 2.90 ERA.
The team’s management and players said they are tired of hearing questions about whether they really will shut down Stephen Strasburg, adding that they don’t even have internal discussions on the matter. But the players who have spoken about about the inning count said they don’t like the idea of going into the most important stretch of the season and then the playoffs without their ace on the mound.
“You take the best pitchers off any team that has a chance to make it to the postseason and it’s devastating,” said veteran utility player Mark DeRosa. “At the same time, we knew it going in. You kind of hoped the better we played the more the decision changed to the opposite.”
The players view on the situation are gaining support from the media. NESN.com noted that in light of Strasburg’s dominant season and the real possibility that the Nationals could make a long run in the playoffs, the inning count “makes less and less sense every day.”
Stephen Strasburg is on pace to reach his innings limit sometime in mid-September, and could be on the bench thereafter. The team’s players said they’re comforted by the depth at starting pitching, which has the best ERA in the league even without Strasburg’s stats.