When the Washington Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft, they expected to get a guy who would be a difference maker right off the bat. Unfortunately, after a very promising start to his career, Strasburg found himself on the wrong end of a major elbow injury.
After missing almost all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery, Strasburg is expected to be fully healthy this season, but that doesn’t mean the Nationals are going to turn him loose. Reports today suggest that Washington’s prized right-hander will be limited to somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 to 160 innings in 2012.
The Nationals used the same formula for fellow hurler Jordan Zimmerman, who threw 161.1 innings during his first season after Tommy John surgery last season. Zimmerman is hoping to reach 200 innings this season.
Strasburg’s comeback from elbow ligament replacement surgery has reportedly gone well so far, and in 2011 he actually made five starts, going 1-1, with a 1.50 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in just 24 innings.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo claims that the team does not plan to skip Strasburg’s spot in the rotation during the season to make it so he’s available late in the season.
Rizzo had the following to say:
“There’s not going to be a whole lot of tinkering going on. We’re going to run him out there until his innings are done. He’s a young pitcher that’s still learning how to pitch in the big leagues. I think it’s unfair to get him ramped up in spring training and start the season on a regular rotation then shut him down or skip him. We’re just going to make him comfortable.”
So it sounds like the Nats are just going to use the 23-year-old as much as they can for as long as they can until he hits that innings number, then shut him doing for good.
Strasburg burst on to the scene during his rookie year in 2010 and made quite a splash. He made 12 starts and went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He also struck out 92 batters while walking just 17 in 68 innings pitched.
In 2010 he suffered an inflamed right shoulder, then returned several weeks later when he suffered the elbow injury that led to his surgery.
The San Diego State product is obviously a huge part of Washington’s future, so it makes sense that they would want to take it easy with him this season. It will just be tough to get the kid to shut things doing midseason, especially if he is pitching well.