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Nats intent on pulling Strasburg before postseason

Wednesday - 8/15/2012, 9:46am  ET

AP: 4ad03fe4-7ea9-4838-949d-e9761fc8e126
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

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WASHINGTON - The Washington Nationals have the best record in Major League Baseball and a steamroller of a pitching staff that includes National League strikeout leader Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg (13-5) pitches Wednesday against the Giants and Tim Lincecum, a former pitching ace who's in the midst of a terrible (6-12) year.

The Nationals and their fans hope Strasburg has many more years like this one ahead. He has a 2.90 ERA and 166 strikeouts.

He's also pitched 133 2/3 innings and his days of pitching this season are numbered.

The Nationals and General Manager Mike Rizzo have made it clear they plan to shut down Strasburg before the postseason -- and at this point, few would argue the Nats won't make the playoffs. They head into Wednesday's game with the Giants with a 72-44 record and lead the National League East.

Rizzo wants to make sure the young pitcher has a long career and doesn't want to jeopardize future seasons, in the wake of Strasburg's Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on his throwing arm last year.

But others, including some of Strasburg's teammates, feel the future is now. They won't challenge management's decision, but have acknowledged they'd like Strasburg on the mound if they reach the playoffs, The Washington Post reports.

It's widely expected that Strasburg will be shut down after he pitches somewhere between 160 and 180 innings. That means he'd be done for the season before the playoffs begin.

"Well I wouldn't shut him down," says Tim Kurkjian, Major League Baseball analyst for ESPN. "But I don't have this kind of investment in him."

"I'd love to be in that room when they told Stephen Strasburg, 'By the way, we're going to win the division but you're not going to pitch in the playoffs.' I'm going to see this to believe it," he adds.

Still, Kurkjian believes the Nats will stick to the original plan and fans won't see Strasburg on the mound when the playoffs begin.

Some still hold out hope that the Nationals will rest Strasburg between now and the playoffs, so he can pitch in the postseason.

"I think they'll do anything they can to protect him," Kurkjian says.

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