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August 16, 2012 / Nat Anacostia

Yet another Strasburg innings-limit post

I know—we’re all sick of reading about it. Everyone who follows the Nats knows that the decision about Stephen Strasburg‘s innings limit was made months ago and won’t be changed, but the rest of the baseball world just discovered it and thinks it’s still open to debate, so the debate has gone on.

I just want to make two points. First, the decision was really made at least 18 months ago when Mike Rizzo announced that Jordan Zimmermann would be shut down after reaching an innings limit. After shutting Zimmermann down, there’s no way he can reach a different decision for Strasburg without coming across as insensitive to Strasburg’s health or appearing as a hypocrite.  There was no possibility that new information could come to light demonstrating that it would be safe to pitch longer. Indeed, the only potential new information that might have changed the decision would have been an injury to Zimmermann (or to another pitcher with TJ surgery) that might have led to an even tighter innings limit.

Second, when I read articles like this one that argue that the Nationals have to go for it this year because they don’t know when they’ll next have a chance, I’m just really glad that I root for a team that is planning for a run of multiple post-season appearances. How depressing would it be to root for a team that had a strategy of only making a run for it once every few years? Thinking about the team, almost the entire core of the team is under team control through at least 2016, so even for Strasburg’s teammates, there shouldn’t be the urgency that they have to win it this season.

Who’s here just this season? Well, there’s Edwin Jackson (but he’s already got a ring), maybe Adam LaRoche (if his option isn’t exercised), and a handful of bench players, but really most of the players on this team should be together for several more years, and Jayson Werth is the only member of that core who is significantly past his peak. There’s always a risk that injuries could upset Rizzo’s plans, but I like having a GM who’s put together a group of young players who have the potential to form a mini-dynasty.

Now, I’m still going to point out that if they’d planned for it, Strasburg could have been put on a once-a-week schedule that would have allowed for him to pitch into the post-season. But that decision should have been made at the beginning of the season. At this point, I agree with Rizzo that it would be a mistake to skip starts in order to save his innings for the post-season.

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