The Washington Nationals will mercifully allow Stephen Strasburg ‘to pitch 200 innings’ this season

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It’s impossible to predict how far the Washington Nationals could have gone last autumn with Stephen Strasburg on the hill.

Months after bush league Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo shelved the flamethrower, Washington’s vice president of player development acknowledged that the organization wants Stephen Strasburg to pitch 200 innings and elaborated on manager Davey Johnson‘s recent remark that he has “no restrictions” for this season.

“To say there’s no restrictions really means, ‘Hey, we’d like him to pitch 200 innings,’” said Bob Boone. “But, you’re not gonna say no restrictions like you might have on Steve Carlton, who would throw 320 innings. You’re not gonna do that. There’s always restrictions, but the meaning is, ‘We’re not gonna shut him down after 160 innings.’”

Despite being entirely healthy, Strasburg (15-6, 3.16 ERA), who has compiled a 21-10 record with a 2.94 ERA and 313 strikeouts since debuting with Washington in June 2010, was shutdown by Rizzo in early September following 159 1/3 innings on the hill.

In a mere 45 starts, Strasburg, who the Nationals picked out of San Diego State University with the first overall selection in the 2009 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft, has visited the disabled list for shoulder tightness and undergone Tommy John Surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in August 2010.

Regardless of any prior afflictions, the youngster, called by Sports Illustrated the “most hyped and closely watched pitching prospect in the history of baseball,” was wrongly forced by Rizzo to sit in the dugout like a clowns pocket and watch the Nationals fold to the St. Louis Cardinals in October’s NLDS.

The asinine Rizzo undoubtedly banged the pooch with Strasburg and handcuffed the franchise during a rare playoff run.

Pampering an athlete is the easiest recipe to causing an injury and Rizzo unwittingly stunted the 24-year-old’s development with unnecessary coddling.

Thankfully for Nationals fans, Washington is “not gonna shut (Stephen Strasburg) down after 160 innings” this autumn.

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