Nationals make Sept. 12 the Stephen Strasburg shutdown date

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Despite their placement atop the NL East standings, the Nationals announced after Sunday’s game that Stephen Strasburg will make two more starts and then get shut down for the rest of the season.

Strasburg, who struck out nine over six scoreless innings against the Cardinals on Sunday, will pitch Friday at home versus the Marlins and then on Sept. 12 on the road against the Mets before calling it a season.

The thinking prior to Opening Day was that Strasburg would be shut down after reaching 160 innings, but the Nationals have decided to let him get closer to 170 in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. He’s at 156 1/3 innings after throwing six innings today.

Strasburg currently leads the National League with 195 strikeouts and is 15-6 with a 2.94 ERA. John Lannan is expected to take his spot in the rotation. If the Nationals advance to the playoffs — they lead the Braves in the East by seven games at the moment — they’ll likely go with a top three of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson in some order, with either Ross Detwiler or Lannan in the fourth spot.

Pirates suspend Keone Kela two games for contract violation

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On Monday, the Pirates announced the club suspended reliever Keone Kela two games for an unspecified contract violation. Kela will begin serving the suspension tonight.

Kela, 26, went on the injured list in early May with a right shoulder injury. He was on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis for the last week and a half. Prior to the injury, Kela posted a 4.63 ERA with an 11/4 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings.

After sitting out Monday and Tuesday, Kela can rejoin the Pirates on Wednesday in the middle of their four-game home series against the Cardinals.