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MLB Roundup: Strasburg return keys Nats, Indians juggle roster

The SportsXchange

The Nationals (37-23) entered Stephen Strasburg's 13th start of the season Wednesday with a four-game lead in the National League East.

Strasburg (7-1, 2.41) is a driving force in making the Nationals' goal of October postseason baseball a realistic one sooner than expected. Only that, Washington has already decided his season might end in late August or early September.

A year removed from Tommy John surgery -- Strasburg had the operation on his prized right arm in 2010 and pitched 24 innings last season -- general manager Mike Rizzo and the rest of the front office plans to stick with its stated plan of shutting Strasburg down when he reaches an innings cap of approximately 160 innings.

"To ask him to throw 200 innings now, that is not a prudent way to do business with a 23-year-old, top-of-the-rotation starter we plan to have for a long time," Rizzo told the NY Post. "It is going to be painful, and we are going to take grief. But I will not shy away from it. I am the caretaker of this organization for the long haul."

Rizzo made the same decision with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann last season. Zimmermann was recovered from Tommy John surgery, but the organizational blueprint for his return called for not more than 160 innings. Zimmermann totaled 161 1/3 innings and never threw more than 109 pitches in any start. His 26th and final start of the season was on Aug. 28.

Strasburg has been in his own stratosphere since the elbow surgery with a 1.59 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 12 walks and a .189 opponents' batting average. But the former No. 1 overall pick won't push back or attempt to veto Rizzo's decision.

"I am not going to sit here and complain about potentially getting shut down," he said in May. "I know they have my best interests at heart."

--The Indians added newly acquired right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers and optioned Matt LaPorta to Class AAA Columbus.

LaPorta, 27, was batting .182 (2 for 11) since being promoted June 3 to replace outfielder Johnny Damon, who was placed on the Paternity List. LaPorta, who lost the first base job to Casey Kotchman in a spring training competition, hit .307 in Columbus, with 14 home runs and 32 RBI.

He was the prized prospect fetched in return for CC Sabathia from the Brewers in July 2008 but is a career .237 hitter with 30 home runs and 115 RBI in 272 career games.

Rogers will be used in long relief out of the bullpen. He was acquired from the Rockies Tuesday. Rogers has a mid-90s fastball and produced 29 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings for the Rockies. The issue for the former starter was control He had 18 walks and an ERA of 8.06 before being designated for assignment by the Rockies on Saturday.
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