Davey Johnson settled in for his daily meeting with reporters today and wasted no time bringing up the topic foremost in everyone’s mind. “Well, any more ideas of how to get [Stephen] Strasburg pitching in October?” Johnson asked. “I seem to be getting more and more help on that aspect.”
Johnson is not on Twitter (“Tweeter,” in Johnson’s parlance), but through letters and text messages he has received ample plans to extend Strasburg despite his innings limit, expected to be between 160 and 180. His favorite suggested Johnson trip the Nationals’ ace when he’s in the outfield so Strasburg strains a hamstring.
“I wish we could get by the Stras thing,” Johnson said.
But, he knows, that is not an option, even after Strasburg pitched six shutout, 10-strikeout innings last night against the Braves. Johnson revealed today that he expects Strasburg to most likely miss two starts at the end of the season, as well as the entirety of the playoffs.
“I think it came with the off days, we need a starter for another two starts,” Johnson said. “I think it’s two starts. It might be three, but I thought it was two.”
Despite Johnson’s assertion, General Manager Mike Rizzo reiterated the Nationals do not yet have a specific target. He also offered a reminder it will be him, not Johnson, who makes the call.
“When I see with my eyes that he’s had enough, he’ll have enough,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo has consistently repeated — and did so again today — that Strasburg has no set innings limit, and that Strasburg’s shutdown will come when the appropriate signs suggest it is time. Johnson was asked if the Nationals really had decided on a firmer schedule.
“It depends on how many innings I let him pitch leading up to it,” Johnson said. “He’s been averaging right around six innings. You guys should be able to do the math on that. If you need some help, I’ll help you.”
Strasburg has ignored the talk surrounding his innings limit, saying repeatedly no team officials have filled him on specifics. Today, Johnson said Strasburg will be told when he will be shut down.
“He’ll know probably the start before his last start,” Johnson said.
Assuming Strasburg remains on an every-fifth-game rotation, as planned, he would have five starts remaining under the schedule Johnson insisted upon today. His final start would come Sept. 19, with John Lannan then replacing him on Sept. 24 and 29. Of course, rain could alter those dates, and the Nationals could also alter their rotation around off days.
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