Whenever tonight’s series finale against the Reds begins, Jordan Zimmermann make one of the precious few starts he has remaining. The Nationals have placed a 160-inning limit on Zimmermann this year, his first season following Tommy John surgery. He has thrown 145 innings so far.

Zimmermann will make at least two starts, but what will the Nationals do if he throws, say, 12 innings over the course of his next two starts? In that scenario, General Manager Mike Rizzo said, the Nationals would re-evaluate whether they would allow him to make one final start or simply shut him down. Basically, they haven’t decided.

Manager Davey Johnson said it would not be fair to Zimmermann or to the team to have him throw a three-inning start. So if he’s sitting at 157 innings after the next two starts, he will either end his season or exceed his 160-inning limit by just a handful of innings. Rizzo and Johnson have not yet discussed the scenario.

“I don’t think it’s cut in stone,” Johnson said. “They don’t want him starting if he has 160 innings. I haven’t had anyone tell them they wouldn’t want him starting if he had 157. I don’t know.”

Zimmermann, of course, could just solve the problem by pitching eight innings one start and seven in another.

Johnson, who received a a math degree from Trinity, also said he wanted to know how the Nationals arrived 160 as the number. “Because I have a strange feeling that may affect somebody else next year,” Johnson said. He did not mention Stephen Strasburg by name.

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