Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's 180

Strasburg, above, will most likely pitch out the season. (Photo: wikimedia.org)
Yesterday, word got out on Twitter that the innings limit for Nationals ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg stands at 180. What does that mean? Basically, Strasburg will finish out the regular season with the Nationals and then he will get shutdown for the season. No postseason play for him.

I understand why Mike Rizzo wants to shut down Strasburg. He simply wants to protect his long-term investment from further harm and this is how he sees it best. It makes sense, really. Strasburg can't get hurt if Strasburg's not playing.

Let me continue...

Like Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2009. He progressed much like Strasburg and return to the big leagues near the end of the 2010 season. His first full season came just two seasons after the surgery in 2011. He had a 160 innings limit and that spanned 26 games.

Now, after completing the seemingly two year long rehab process, Zimmerman is in the midst of his first full season following the procedure. He has been by far the Nationals most consistent, and possibly best, pitcher this season. He's 9-6 with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Those numbers are tops on the team.

So while many of you may not agree with the decision to shutdown Strasburg, there is a proven logic behind it. But, I understand why you are all so upset with the impending doom...

It's the postseason. Last year, the Nationals didn't stand a chance at making the post-season so nobody cared that Jordan Zimmermann got the hook early. This season, however, the Nationals are one of the favorites to win the World Series. And in order to have the best shot at winning the World Series, Stephen Strasburg is going to have to be a part of the rotation.

The only question I pose to Mike Rizzo, however, is not so much WHY 180 innings, but HOW did you come up with 180 innings? What were the parameters of the decision? Does it look at performance over time? Or is this simply just a number that seemed large enough, yet small  enough to make some sense?

While I have personally not decided whether or not I like the move to shut down Strasburg, in the long run it's a great idea, short run it's a terrible idea, I do understand why: Mike Rizzo is protecting a long term investment in hopes he turns out like Jordan Zimmermann.

But, like I stated above, why does it have to be 180 innings? Why not go has high as 190-200? Then he at least gets some post-season experience.

Once Strasburg does get shut-down, expect John Lannan to be called up from Triple A to take his place. In two starts this season, both against NL East opponents, Lannan is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.


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