|Welcome, Honored Guest!|
It could fill - $
Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:01am|
By Keith Hernandez
All of us fantasy baseball players knew how good Stephen Strasburg was, even before he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on Sept. 3 of 2010. He's one of the most dominating hurlers in baseball, and he's only 23 (24 in July) and has made just 31 starts.
Nolan Ryan and Justin Verlander may need to move over, eventually.
However, due to the infamous surgery on his right elbow two years ago, the Washington Nationals are desperately trying to conserve his innings in order to keep this once-in-a-lifetime prospect around for many years to come. Christina Kahrl delves into the pros and cons of sticking to an innings limit for Stras and compares this sitch to that of former phenom Dwight Gooden.
Before the season, Washington put a 'tentative' 160 innings limit on Strasburg. After a 9-1 record, a stellar 2.46 ERA and 110 K's in 84 innings (14 starts), the Nats must start making some important decisions. He's just over the halfway mark of that limit, but so many things can go into the decision on capping him abruptly at that 160-inning mark or going over it.
The team's place in the standings of the NL East could be the biggest factor. They're currently three games ahead of the New York Mets atop the division, and Strasburg has been key in their success. Washington has done a respectful job of limiting his work to this point; he's gone over 100 pitches in just five of his 14 starts, although he tossed at least 90 in five other outings.
Strasburg's domination of opposing teams makes it hard for them to limit his innings on a start-by-start basis, too. There are ways to limit his innings from here on out: remove him earlier in games if the team has a comfy lead, keep him from throwing in the All-Star game, go to a six-man rotation (John Lannan or Chien-Ming Wang as the No. 6?), skip some of his starts in the second half
My thinking: It's nearly impossible to keep Strasburg at 160 innings if he's your best pitcher and the team is feverishly competing for a playoff spot. The Nats could shut him down if they lock up a postseason berth early in September, but that's highly unlikely to happen in the potent NL East.
If the Nats' best chance at a long playoff run or World Series title is this year, regardless of Strasburg's age and injury history - as long as he's healthy - why not go for it now? The team could take every measure to reduce the wear and tear on him now only for him to break down later anyway. As Kahrl brought up in her column, every pitcher is different, so there's no guarantee that babying his workload now will keep him healthy over the course of his career.
It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out as he gets closer to the limit, but I say they can't limit themselves if they're in contention. What do you think they should do?