PHOENIX — Asked for what seems like the umpteenth time on Friday afternoon whether or not the Washington Nationals have placed a hard and fast number on the amount of innings Stephen Strasburg will throw this season, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated what he’s said since spring training: No.
The Nationals will be limiting Strasburg’s innings load this season but Rizzo said the 180-inning figure reported by Yahoo! Sports on Friday, like the 160-inning marks before it, is not an accurate assessment of the situation.
Strasburg’s limit, an extended portion of his continued rehab from Tommy John surgery, is one that the Nationals have planned on determining based on a number of factors — including certain factors like stressful innings that can’t simply be decided on a spreadsheet or with a definitive number.
It stands to reason, however, that if the Nationals were to let him throw more than 180 innings they’d hardly be shutting him down at all.
As the Nationals continue down the path of contention and inch ever-closer to the organization’s first playoff birth, Strasburg’s innings limit has become arguably the hottest topic in the national media and the decision to shut him down has been scrutinized and debated every which way possible.
But through it all the Nationals have maintained a steady stance. They have never put a specific number on it, only saying that they would follow a similar plan as they did with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who was shut down after 161 1/3 innings in 2011 and is among the elite pitchers in the National League this season. They have always said Strasburg would not pitch a full season as they do not see it prudent or practical for the health of their star pitcher for the long term.
And they have maintained that the medical advice they’ve been given is that messing with his routine by shutting him down in the middle of the season for a few weeks or stretching his starts out or doing anything other than allowing him to pitch every five days is not the best course.
“There are highly-educated people making that decision,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who’s also addressed the situation countless times. “So I’m just living with what it is. Would you record that so you can play it over for yourself in a week when you ask me again?”
Strasburg will take the mound tonight having already thrown 127 1/3 innings, and other than knowing that will likely increase by the time his night is over, there’s not much new to report with regard to his situation.