- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
COMAK: Strasburg reaching his limit is inevitable
The question came his way after six more innings were in the books. After Stephen Strasburg's 2012 total reached 77 innings and inched closer to his season's general halfway point. After his team asserted its viability as a contender once more and finished off a 6-0 road trip.
It was not an unfamiliar query.
"How difficult will it be if your team is where you want it to be and you're not able to participate?" a reporter asked Strasburg last Wednesday. How difficult, essentially, will it be to know you're taking your electrifying talent to the bench as your team battles on without you in September and, possibly, the playoffs?
"I try not to think about it," Strasburg said, allowing a slight smirk that seemed to indicate that he, of course, thought about it often. "With the direction that we're going and everything, it makes it even harder not to think about. I can't control that."
Then he said what everyone who has watched him pitch for the NL East-leading Nationals this season has been thinking.
"Hopefully," Strasburg said, "things can change."
But for the Nationals, for Strasburg, for 2012, they cannot.
With each frame that Strasburg tosses, it seems, calculators around the baseball world click. One more inning down. One fewer inning he'll be able to pitch this season.
While vague on what the number of innings will be, the Nationals have been clear on this much: Strasburg will be held to a limit of some sort. For Jordan Zimmermann a year ago, coming off the same surgery, that was 161 1/3 innings. It's not inconceivable to think Strasburg's number will be around there.
In the meantime, though, when it will happen and how the Nationals can think of shutting down their ace in the heat of a pennant race has become one of baseball's hottest topics. General manager Mike Rizzo has been asked about Strasburg's innings limit so often he was quoted in the New York Post last week as telling a reporter: "You are killing me," and vowing it'd be the last time he'd discuss it.
Many who've tackled the topic feel the Nationals will find some loophole. That they'll discover later this season all the things they've said about the importance of keeping their starters on a five-day schedule are not that important. That a six-man rotation will become plausible. That the idea of shutting down Strasburg for a few weeks in late August and September to keep him under the limit for the playoffs will become more palatable.
But if they're going to stand by their reasoning, they won't.
Throughout this process, just as they did with Zimmermann in 2011, the Nationals have followed their medical team's advice with regard to this limit. The people they've paid to make these decisions — including Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed Strasburg's surgery — have helped them arrive at the conclusion that allowing him to throw an unlimited number of innings this year is not wise.
This is the decision the organization has made for the health of the player. The decision made to ensure, as best they can, that he'll spend more of the coming years in the rotation and not on the disabled list.
To recant on that decision because of where the team sits in the standings would be irresponsible and disingenuous.
Zimmermann didn't enjoy being shut down. He didn't enjoy the monotony, and he certainly didn't enjoy watching his team take the field every night without him. But he has a 2.92 ERA in 83 1/3 healthy innings this season and is expected to be a horse in the rotation for years to come.
Strasburg, who starts Wednesday against Tampa Bay, might not like it either. The baseball world might not like it. His teammates might not like it, knowing they'll be without their ace as they make a playoff push. But without his innings now, they might not be in that position at all. And ignoring what's best for his health, for the long-term, just isn't feasible.
"Hopefully, when we get to where we want to be, somehow I'm a part of it still," Strasburg said. "But I can't really worry about that right now. We've still got a long ways to go."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Harry Reid using tax dollars to fight Koch brothers, La. GOP chair charges
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014