08/18/12 7:29 PM ET
Amid all the talk, Strasburg focused only on next start
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
"Nobody said anything to me. I'm going out there to finish this year and go to the playoffs," Strasburg said. "That's a goal of mine. I just want to keep pitching well and help this team win as many games as we can."
According to a source, it's likely that Strasburg, who has thrown 139 1/3 innings this season, could throw as many as 180, exceeding the 160 that was originally believed to be his limit for the season. The innings limit is similar to what teammate Jordan Zimmermann went through last season, his first full year back in the Majors after having Tommy John surgery in 2009.
The same source went so far as to say that Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.
"I don't know what the decision is and everything, but we're not there yet," Strasburg said. "So that's what I keep telling myself. We still have to finish out the season. When we get to that point, we have to figure that out. For right now, I'm getting ready for my next start."
While Strasburg doesn't know how many total innings he will throw in 2012, he is grateful about how the Nationals have taken care of his arm after he had the elbow reconstruction in late 2010.
"It's a real classy organization. They treat every guy the same," Strasburg said. "It doesn't matter what name you have on the back of your jersey. I respect that. They really want to develop every guy all the way up to [the big leagues], and give everyone the best opportunity to succeed.
"At the same time, I want to be that guy can they lean on when it's crunch time. I want to be the horse in the rotation, throw 200 innings every year. I want to shut the door every fifth day. That's a goal of mine. I'm still in the process of getting to that point. I'm going to keep plugging along and roll with the punches."
Strasburg is 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA, and is second in the National League in strikeouts with 173. He also has a 2.19 ERA during afternoon games, which is second best in the NL.
Asked how his arm was doing, Strasburg said, "I feel great. The program that I got on the last couple of years, especially coming off the Tommy John, it has really helped me get through a season. I think this is a good test for me this year -- so far. This is my first chance to have an in-season program and getting used to pitching every five days.
"Looking back on it, the first year , I wish I knew as much as I do now. The workouts, the running, it just wasn't enough. What I've been doing this year, it has really helped me throughout the year. You obviously are going to hit a wall around 100 games, and I feel I've gotten past my wall. I feel like I'm still building. Everything is good right now. I'm going to keep it in my power to keep it that way."
If Strasburg doesn't pitch in the postseason, the NL East-leading Nationals would likely use four starters in a series, with a fifth starter working out of the bullpen.
"If we weren't winning, I don't think it would as big as a story," Strasburg said. "It's something I'm not really stressing about. People are going to talk. I learned that my first year. They are going to say what they are going to say. ... That's their opinion. The thing about the internet is, you can put anything out there and some people take it for facts."
Candidates aplenty for Nats' September callups
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are expected to make Minor League callups on Sept. 1. Here is a look at the players who could be in the Majors by then:
Back to the bigs
OF Corey Brown: He has had several stints in the big leagues this year and continues to be productive for Triple-A Syracuse. Entering Saturday's action, Brown was hitting .296 with 23 home runs and 66 RBIs.
RHP Christian Garcia: The Nationals are expected to call up reliever Garcia to the big leagues, according to a baseball source. The righty, a former Yankees prospect, is a combined 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA and 17 saves in 38 games for Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse.
"He deserves to be the big leagues," the source said. "He would be a big help to the bullpen."
LHP John Lannan: Despite having problems in the Minor Leagues, Lannan had two quality starts against the Braves and Marlins for the big club. If the Nationals make the playoffs, people assume Lannan will replace Stephen Strasburg in the rotation once Strasburg is shutdown. That won't happen. If Strasburg is shut shown, the Nats most likely will use a four-man rotation for a short series.
C Sandy Leon: After being optioned to Syracuse on Aug. 3, Leon is 11-for-24 with two home runs (.458) entering Saturday's action.
OF Eury Perez: The Nationals may have found their center fielder and leadoff hitter of the future. Entering Saturday's action, Perez is hitting a combined .313 with 38 RBIs and 46 stolen bases for the Gulf Coast Nationals, Harrisburg and Syracuse.
RHP Chien-Ming Wang: Wang is expected to get a few more starts in the Minor Leagues before he is called up. It has been an injury-filled season for Wang. It seems doubtful that he would put on the postseason roster.
Still in conversation
3B Anthony Rendon: Washington's first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year player Draft is already with Harrisburg, and manager Davey Johnson would like to see Rendon called up to the big leagues.
"He hasn't had many at-bats," Johnson said. "I know he is a talented right-handed bat and he is on the 40-man roster. Anybody that is on the 40-man roster ... are candidates."
LHP Zack Duke: Duke has been one of Syracuse's hot pitchers of late. He leads the team in wins and has a solid 3.50 ERA.
RHP Yunesky Maya: Maya is having a good season for Syracuse, going 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA. If a pitcher like Jordan Zimmermann needs a break, Maya could get the call.
Don't look for them to be in the big leagues
IF Zack Walters: There was talk of Walters being in the big leagues because of the injury to shortstop Ian Desmond, but Desmond is back, removing the need to add an extra infielder.
1B Chris Marrero: Marrero is playing for Syracuse, but is having limited at-bats because of hamstring issues.
Johnson said he plans to rest Desmond on Sunday and use Danny Espinosa at shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi at second base against the Mets. Jayson Werth will also get the day off as well. Johnson has often said to win the division title, he must get all 25 players to contribute to the team.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.