Stephen Strasburg and the Infamous Innings Cap

By Kenny DeJohn

Stephen Strasburg has been operating on a team-imposed innings limit all season, and he will likely be shut down once he hits the 160-innings mark—just like the team did with Jordan Zimmermann last season.

The Washington Nationals have every right to be cautious with Strasburg’s golden arm. That arm will eventually bring division crowns, pennants and World Series championships back to D.C.

That being said, Strasburg has shown no signs of being hampered by the Tommy John surgery that he underwent last season, nor has he shown any signs of fatigue after tossing 99 innings in the season’s first half.

If Strasburg feels that he can pitch, I feel like the Nationals should let him. They are on the brink of the team’s first playoff appearance since the team moved back to D.C. prior to the 2005 season, and there’s no doubting the fact that he is the unquestioned ace of a very strong staff.

Strasburg recently made it known how he feels about this innings limit, saying, “They’re going to have to rip the ball out of my hands.”

The 23-year-old right-hander has come back spectacularly from Tommy John surgery in 2o12. Through 99 innings, he sports a 2.82 ERA to go along with a record of 9-4.

If you count the inning that he tossed in the All-Star Game a few nights ago, he’s up to an even 1oo on the season.

At his current pace, Strasburg would be shut down sometime around the first week in September. That’s not exactly a convenient time for the Nationals, as who knows how close the division could be as the season enters its final month. Having Strasburg in the rotation is a must to ensure that the team will make the playoffs.

Other players find the innings cap absurd, as they realize his importance to the team. An unnamed player said that it would take “serious guts” for the Nationals to impose such a cap.

We’ll have to just wait and see how Strasburg, Mike Rizzo, Mark Lerner and Davey Johnson handle the situation as September looms closer.

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