With less than 50 games to go, the Washington Nations have the best record in the majors and they are in the driver seat to make the postseason. Unfortunately, the team’s ace pitcher, Stephen Strasburg won’t be on the mound come playoff time.

All season long, Washington has played stellar baseball, making non believers preach to their choir. The Nats have owned the NL East, winning just about every series in its division.

The Nats also have the best pitching in baseball and they have made some outstanding plays this season. There’s not a lead that is safe against them. And yet, Washington has kept its poise. Mind you, this ball club was projected to be a year away from being contenders.

Although the Nats have taken a cool approach to what has become of them in 2012, they are fully aware of where they are this season. They know that they have the best record in baseball. They know that the NL East is well within their grasps. This club is fully aware that they are a shoe-in for a playoff spot and have a realistic chance to win it all.

With all of this brewing, the team will have to make a critical decision that may jeopardize its entire championship run.

General manager Mike Rizzo  is maintaining the team’s stance of  limiting Stephen Strasburg’s inning production at the start of the season.  So if this sticks, Nats fans will not see their ace, who recovered from Tommy John surgery last season, in the playoffs. Doctors have told the team that a pitcher coming off this type of surgery will shortened their career if they pitch more than 200 innings the following season.

The Nats have set a 180 inning limit  for Strasburg and that output won’t make it through the postseason.

Rizzo and the Nats organization is looking out for its future by shelving their superstar. It makes sense. However,  there’s no guarantee in sports. It’s not a lock that Washington will be this good for the next ten seasons. The Nats won’t limp into the postseason and they have very capable pitchers in their starting rotation. Gio Gonzalez (LH) , Jordan Zimmerman (RH), Edwin Jackson (RH) and Ross Detwiler (LH) will be a force to be reckoned with. But having Strasburg makes them the favorites to win it all.

As a baseball fan, keeping Strasburg in the starting rotation is a no-brainer. Without him you go from being the team-to-beat to being just a playoff team. The Washington Nationals management team probably would disagree. I guess it’s just bad timing.

By Keith Madyun

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