Stephen Strasburg is the ace of the Washington Nationals, sitting on a 13-5 record with a 2.90 ERA. Strasburg has 166 strikeouts and Ks batters at an impressive 11.2 per nine innings. He's pitched 133.1 innings so far this year so Strasburg's season is just about over and there's nothing he can do about it. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in September of 2010, Strasburg's health has been the National's priority, and even if the World Series is a possibility, the team isn't going to chance it.
Coming into this season, the Nationals' front office made it clear that they would adhere to a strict innings count for Strasburg, and his time is coming. It was originally reported that the team would limit Strasburg to somewhere between 160-180 innings. The Nats may give him more time in between starts to make his season last longer, but they've already reportedly decided that he won't pitch in the postseason. That doesn't make any sense. If you're going to limit the guy, why not shut him down now and then let him finish his inning count in the playoffs?
The Nationals are not only in the playoff hunt, they have the best record in the Majors at 71-44 and are currently at number one in ESPN's MLB Power Rankings.
The decision obviously isn't the most popular one among Nationals players. These guys know that getting to the postseason isn't easy, and just because you're having a great season now, that doesn't mean suddenly they're going to be contending for a pennant year in and year out (though they certainly have the nucleus in place to do that). Check out what Adam LaRoche said in the Washington Post.
I get their side. But our side is, the playoffs aren’t guaranteed. You don’t want to shut your best guy down — or one of your best guys, because we’ve got a bunch of them — if you’re never going to go back there. If I knew for the next two or three years we’re going to go back, then it’s probably an easy decision.
And the players have no other choice than to accept it. Of course they want to win now, and it's unlikely they would really want to see their young teammate risk his career for a shot at a World Series title.
That's why I don't understand why they wouldn't consider shortening Strasburg's regular season now, and then keep working him out until the playoffs roll around and use him then. They could keep him in the innings count, and still have him there when it counts the most.