Photo: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann
Despite being one of the best pitchers in the National League this season, the Nats still plan to limit Stephen Strasburg, their 23-year old All-Star, to just 160-170 innings this season out of fear of putting too much pressure on his already surgically-repaired arm. And that means Strasburg’s season will likely be over in early September even if the Nats are still in the playoff race.General Manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post that the team knows “what’s right for us. And we have the guts to stick with it.”
One reason for being so careful with a young arm is what some refer to as “The Verducci Effect,” named for Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, who proposed that young pitchers that increase their workload too much from one season to the next are more susceptible to injury.
However, several studies have shown that The Verducci Effect is more myth than fact, and does not predict future injuries. And while a team like the Tampa Bay Rays has had a remarkably healthy pitching staff with a similar approach, they have also been more willing to push their pitchers beyond their limits in October without any major setbacks.
So while the Nationals are smart to be careful with their young ace, they may also be risking a rare chance to win the World Series based on nothing but fear of what might happen. And that’s how teams end up consistently very good, but rarely great.
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