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MLB Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals Smart To Keep Handcuffs Off Stephen Strasburg

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was one that the Washington Nationals may look back on and regret making a critical decision. The team decided very early on that they would shut down ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg when he reached a certain number of innings pitched. That took Strasburg out of the equation when the team made the playoffs, and the Nationals lost in five games.

Washington probably wishes that they would have had Strasburg pitching two of those games. This season, it looks like the handcuffs are off Strasburg, and with that, Strasburg is in line to be a Cy Young contender.

Strasburg was 15-6 last season with 197 strikeouts. He has looked great in spring training this season and I can only hope that Washington lets Strasburg fully pitch this season, after trying to hold him back some last year after his Tommy John surgery recovery. There are very few pitchers in all of Major League Baseball that I would want before Strasburg. He is the real deal and he is going to lead Washington to the playoffs again in 2013.

The only thing that will stop Strasburg this time around is if he gets hurt again, or if Washington makes another curious decision and tries to end Strasburg’s season if he gets to 200 innings. I don’t see the Nationals making that same move in two straight seasons. Strasburg will likely finish the season with 20 wins and an ERA near what he had last season. The Nationals are a better team with Strasburg at the top of their rotation and this year will have him out there the whole season or so it would appear right now.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.