The Final Countdown

Remember how I said almost a month ago that I was done talking about the Strasburg Limit?

That tweet from the inimitable Bill Ladson settled it. Now we know: the Strasburg Limit will be no greater than 180 innings. For most of the baseball commentariat outside the Beltway, this carries far more significance than the possible detection of the Higgs boson.

But what does this mean?

As I write this, Strasburg has pitched 127.1 innings. That means he has 52.2 innings left to pitch. So far, Strasburg has averaged just about 5.2 innings per start. At that rate, Strasburg will have 9 more starts. That means he will be permitted to pitch out the entire regular season, and shut down for any post-season play. Like Moses atop Mount Nebo, Strasburg will be permitted to see the Promised Land, but he will not be allowed to enter into it himself. At least not this year.

There is still work to be done, though. By my count of the rotation, Strasburg will face the Braves once (on August 21 at Nats Park), the Marlins twice (August 28 at Miami and Sept. 7 at home), and the Mets once (at home on Sept. 12)

Additionally, he’ll face the Giants on August 15, the Cardinals twice (Sept. 2 and Sept. 29), and the Dodgers once (Sept. 19).

That’s a lot of games against divisional opponents and winning baseball teams. The Nats need Strasburg to do well in each of these last several starts to keep their lead over the Braves in the National League East.

After the Limit is reached, I remain confident that a rotation of Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Jackson and Detwiler will be enough to get the Nats through a 5 or 7 game series. But until that day, I will be watching nervously.