Craig Heist, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - While there has been no official date set for when the Nationals will shut down Stephen Strasburg, the groundwork is being laid as the season moves toward the month of September.
"I have talked a little bit about it with (GM Mike) Rizzo,' said Nationals manager Davey Johnson prior to the Braves game on Wednesday. "We kind of worked it out, and I think it came out with off-days we could use another starter for, I think, two starts. I think it was two, maybe three. I thought it was two."
Strasburg's innings total is at 145.1 for the season after his six-inning, 10 strikeout effort against the Braves Tuesday night. The general thought has been his final total will fall somewhere between 160-180 innings.
Strasburg is scheduled to pitch next Tuesday in Miami against the Marlins and it appears with Johnson's thinking, he'd have four, possibly five, more starts before his season ends.
After the Miami game, if you do as Davey Johnson suggest and "do the math," Strasburg figures to pitch again on September 2nd against the Cardinals at Nats Park, on the 7th at home against Miami and the Mets at Citi Field on the 12th. If there is a fifth start, it would come at home on the 19th against the Dodgers.
If he averages six innings a start, the Dodgers game on the 19th would put him at 175.1. Just how fast the innings limit is approached, whether it is 160 or closer to 180 is up to Johnson.
"It depends on how many innings I let him throw leading up to it," he said. "I don't think the innings number is cut in stone. The science is not that exact so there is some leeway there."
Regardless, the decision is a tough one. Not because it's not the right thing to do but because Strasburg has won his last four starts and is 4-0 this month. "The only test I have is (Jordan) Zimmermann," he said. "I was here when we shut him down he was throwing better than anybody I had. It's not like this is the first time.
With Strasburg this year and the decision of when to do it, Johnson added, "It has nothing to with what goes on today or what happened in the start yesterday. He's not concerned about when. He is just focused in and he will take the ball when they give it to him."
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