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Innings limit may force Strasburg to miss 2-3 starts

August 22, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson says Stephen Strasburg could miss his final two or three turns in the rotation during the regular season.

In his first full season following elbow ligament replacement surgery, Strasburg is 15-5 with a 2.85 ERA and a National League-leading 183 strikeouts. The 24-year-old right-hander has thrown 145 1/3 innings, and the Nationals are thought to have given him a limit of 160-180.

“I think it came out that with the off days, we’d need another starter for I think two starts,” Johnson said after talking with general manager Mike Rizzo. “I think two starts, might have been three.”

Washington began the day with a seven-game lead in the NL East, putting the city on track for postseason play for the first time since 1933.

The Nationals followed a similar plan last season with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-7 with a 2.54 ERA that ranks second in the NL.

“It’s funny, there wasn’t anything said when we shut down Zimmermann,” Johnson said.

Last year, Johnson announced a pitcher for Zimmermann’s slot before he had the chance to inform all involved. He intends to change that this year.

“Everybody in the world will know about this one,” Johnson said.

The highly anticipated announcement took much of the attention from Wednesday’s game against Atlanta.

Kris Medlen pitched seven shutout innings in his latest winning performance and Martin Prado’s two-run double proved decisive to help the Braves end a four-game losing streak with a victory.

Medlen (5-1) allowed seven hits while striking out seven and walking one in his fifth start of the season. The Braves have won 16 consecutive starts behind the right-hander dating back to May 2010.

More importantly, Atlanta salvaged the three-game divisional series and halted the Nationals three-game winning streak. The Braves, who entered the day atop the National League wild card chase, moved within six games of the NL East leading Nationals.

Coming off a shutout in his last outing, Medlen extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings. Since entering the Braves rotation on July 31, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA.

For the first time in five games the Braves offense scored more than two runs. Prado’s fifth-inning double gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead. After the Nationals cut the lead in half in the eighth, the Braves pulled away with three runs in the ninth.

The National scored an unearned run against the Braves bullpen after Medlin exited following 103 pitches. Bryce Harper opened the eighth with an opposite field single against reliever Eric O’Flaherty, and took second on left fielder Reed Johnson’s bobble. After moving to on Ryan Zimmerman’s ground ball out, Harper scored on Michael Morse’s single.

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