The Washington Nationals have stayed true to their belief that Stephen Strasburg would be shut down at some point this season. The debate has been what magic number would warrant general manager Mike Rizzo to pull the plug on the National League strikeout leader.
While many have assumed the magic number would be around 160, due to how the organization handled Jordan Zimmermann last season, it was reported on Tuesday that he might be allowed to surpass that mark by perhaps 20 innings.
According to a source, it is not set in stone that #Strasburg would pitch 160 innings this year. It could go up to 180 innings— William Ladson (@washingnats) July 24, 2012
An extra 20 innings could be important to the Nationals as they continue their pursuit of the NL East title. Strasburg would be able to take the mound for three more starts, which would be pivotal in deciding the outcome of not only the division but seeding in the playoffs.
Strasburg's dominance on the mound this season has been crucial to the Nats' success. Strasburg has pitched 110.1 innings in 19 starts this season with a 2.85 ERA. He leads the majors with 11.42 strikeouts per nine innings.
Rizzo will have the final say on when to shut Strasburg down. He told ESPN.com that he does not have a predetermined number, but when the decision is made, he will be the one to do so.
"I'm not going to let anyone on any network or in any newspaper dictate what we should do as an organization. They're not the general manager of this club. I am," said Rizzo.
The longer that Strasburg is allowed to pitch by Rizzo, the better the Nats' chances are of locking up the NL East and playing in October.