If there is one pitcher who looks as if he does not need to be shut down, it is Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
Rebounding from his worst outing of the season, Strasburg subdued the St. Louis Cardinals in six shutout innings Sunday. Although he did not get the win because of the Cardinals' late rally, his work was a nice bounceback after he surrendered seven runs, five earned, to the Miami Marlins on Aug. 28.
This time, Strasburg allowed just two hits and struck out nine in six innings. Only two batters got in scoring position for the Cardinals with Strasburg on the hill. The Nationals went on to beat the Cardinals 4-3.
With outings like Sunday and the team in first place, however, that decision will be tougher and tougher to make.
But manager Davey Johnson was adamant after the game Sunday that Strasburg will pitch in just two more games this season.
"I think two starts, unless I let him pitch 10 (innings) in the next one out, which I am not going to," Johnson said. "So I think his last start will be on the 12th."
That means Strasburg will start on Sept. 7 against Miami, and his final start of 2012 will be on Sept. 12 at the New York Mets. If he averages six innings in each of those starts, Strasburg would finish with 168 1/3 innings on the season.
Strasburg reiterated his desire to change the impending shutdown date.
"I am just focusing on the next start," Strasburg said. "That is all I can really focus on right now, but we are going to have to have a sit down and talk here real soon."
Strasburg also said of Johnson's plans, "I am going to fight with him to the end. That is all I got to say."