For me, you win as many damn games as you can, whenever you can. If that’s Stephen Strasburg throwing 200 innings, so what? Cole Hamels pitched 262 innings (at 25, in 2008) the year the Phillies won the World Series. You’re telling Strasburg that once you get to 180 innings, go ahead and enjoy October from the bench? Just shoot me.
It may be silly to react to Strasburg’s long-expected shutdown before it happens, but I’ve mentioned it on the podcast a couple of times and I might as well note it in print: If the Nationals make the playoffs and Stephen Strasburg is held out of the postseason due to a pre-set innings limit, they’re ferociously missing the point.
Even if you believe in the Verducci Effect, which is unproven and relies on selection bias, you must recognize that young pitching is fickle, all teams and especially teams built upon young pitching are subject to massive fluctuations in performance year after year, and there’s no definitive way to prevent pitcher injury. There’s no guarantee the Nats will make the playoffs next year or the year after that, and there’s no guarantee Strasburg will be healthy then even if they do, regardless of whether he’s shut down tomorrow. Why do you have Stephen Strasburg if not to help you win the World Series?
Jeff Francoeur has been wrong about many things in the past (i.e., “This pitch is clearly a fastball!”) but he’s spot on here.