Stephen Strasburg on Nationals’ innings limit: “They’re going to have to rip the ball out of my hands”

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General manager Mike Rizzo said before the season that the Nationals would limit Stephen Strasburg to 160 innings as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery, but no one, including Strasburg, seems to think that will actually happen.

Strasburg has already thrown 99 innings, putting him on pace for around 193, and when asked about the potential 160-inning limit by MLB Network Radio he replied: “They’re going to have to rip the ball out of my hands.”

Strasburg went on to say: “I have no clue how many innings I’m going to throw this year. I’ve answered that question multiple times, and nobody’s said anything to me. I feel great right now.”

He’s averaged 5.82 innings per start, so to go from a 193-inning pace to a 160-inning pace he’d have to skip 5-6 of his remaining 15-16 starts. Shorter starts are also an option, although Strasburg has been allowed to top 100 pitches in a game just six times as is and the Nationals will presumably want to keep him fully stretched out for potential postseason games.

And those playoff starts would make it even tougher to keep Strasburg at or around 160 innings for the season, assuming the Nationals include those in the count. If they don’t skip any of his regular season starts and he ends up pitching in the playoffs, Strasburg could easily approach 210-220 innings.