Washington Nationals: Why Is Stephen Strasburg Pitching in a Blowout Game?

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IAugust 28, 2012

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 28:  Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals throws against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg, whose arm is being treated by the Washington Nationals as if it is a Fabrege Egg, did not have his best stuff tonight.

He let up a pair of runs in the first and three in the third. With his innings at a premium, why would the Nationals send him out for the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins?

For some unknown reason, manager Davey Johnson had him pitch the fourth where he let up a run. Then he batted in the fifth and came out to pitch in the bottom of the inning where he let up a double to Giancarlo Stanton and another run.

He finished his game with five innings pitched, nine hits, five earned runs and three strikeouts. If they are limiting his innings, there was no reason to have him pitch more than three. There are two innings they could have banked.

The coddling of Stephen Strasburg has bordered on insanity this season. On Bleacher Report, I suggested that they find ways in the bullpen to stretch his appearances into the playoffs without exceeding their innings limits.

Instead, they seem hell bent to have him use up his innings before the postseason, and the perfect combination that would make the Nationals the favorites in October would be compromised. The strange logic the Nationals seem to have is "All of the elements are coming together for 2012, but let's concentrate on 2013 and 2014."

Seasons where the competition falls and a team comes together can be so fleeting in baseball. Ask the Angels and the Marlins and the White Sox, whose recent World Series titles were clinched when a series of positive events all clicked at once.

Now imagine one of those teams deciding to not use one of their best pitchers in the postseason. How many of those events would have unclicked?

If the Nationals are hell bent on limiting Strasburg's innings, then that is their decision. But is it wise to burn those innings when they do not have to?

Shouldn't they try to save a few for September, or better yet October?