Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg (Alex Brandon / Associated…)
The Stephen Strasburg count continues. Nobody really knows what number we're counting to, but we're all counting just the same.
Right now that number is 143 1/3 -- that's how many innings the Washington Nationals star pitcher has thrown this season. The Nationals have said all year that they're sticking to a strict limit for their young ace, who is pitching his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.
The team has not revealed what the ceiling will be for Strasburg, but it's expected to be somewhere between 160 and 180 innings. So that means probably two to four starts remain before his season comes to an end.
For weeks now, fans have been debating the wisdom of the team with the best record in baseball shutting down their best pitcher at the most important time of the season. And it definitely is a worthwhile debate.
But hopefully those fans are keeping an eye on Strasburg at the same time. Because, for now, he is still pitching -- and he's putting on an amazing show. He continued his stellar season (15-5, 2.85 ERA) Tuesday night, striking out 10 and allowing one run in six innings during the Nationals' 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Much of that came after a 51-minute rain delay. Strasburg had allowed two hits and struck out four at the time. Conventional wisdom may have said to keep the pitcher out of the game -- which Manager Davey Johnson said he would have done had the delay lasted more than an hour -- but Strasburg and the Nationals appear to be proceeding full speed ahead ... until it's time to stop.
"I'm going to keep pitching," Strasburg said. "I'm in it with these guys for the long haul."
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