Real mixed message on Strasburg last night.
We'll let you sit around for near an hour and go back out and pitch a lot of innings.. but we don't trust you enough to come up with a plan to stretch your innings into the playoffs.
I was on board with shutting him down till last night. If they think he's perfectly fine to sit around and come back and pitch after a long delay... something that always comes with a high degree of risk (bullpen innings are not comparable to on the mound innings)... they should be fine with limiting him to 3 inning stints till he makes the playoffs with 20+ innings left in the tank.
The original plan on Strasburg is becoming clearer by the day... and that is that Rizzo never thought this team would compete this year... and that Strasburg would be shut down in a non-playofff atmosphere. Unfortunately, as we all know... Rizzo is not exactly flexible in his opinion. It'll likely come back to bite the Nats in the ass this year. Which is too bad. Lets hope the hubris shown by Rizzo/some of the fans on this message board that the Nats will automatically be promised winning seasons in the future does not prove to be fatal in the future.
I'm with you on the bottom line here, which is that Rizzo's play at this point is "take a hit to our chances this year in the hopes that it pays future dividends." The downside risk is as you say - this could be our best chance to win it all, and we could end up falling short in the future for a bunch of other reasons (less healthy, lack of development, etc.) I also agree that Rizzo clearly thought that it would play out more or less like ZNN - we'd be a plucky almost-ran 85-win team that had serious potential for '13. And I think you're right that Rizzo's already made his decision come hell or high water.
The only place I would quibble is in the three-innings-per-start thing. He's up to 145 innings after yesterday. 3 per start over 7-8 more starts puts him at 166-169 headed into the playoffs. At that point, I think you'd want him to go full bore, which puts him at 36-42 more (figuring 6-7 starts at 6 innings per), so that's a grand total of 202-211 for the year. At that point, all you're really saving is the 20 or so from the regular season starts - you may as well go ahead and just let him throw. To me, all the creativity over ways to diddle with his overall number of innings is just that - sort of fiddling around. The time for that was in May, when it could have had a bigger impact. Now, there's really only two decisions - either let him throw and take your best shot and take the long-term risk, or shut him down, hope for the best this year and hope that that helps with long-term health.
As for last night - I think that was driven more by the fact that they had an all-hands-on-deck effort the night before than it was by whether or not they thought pitching Stras was a good idea. Given their druthers, I'd bet they would have preferred to sit him down, but since Stammen had gone 2 the night before and everybody else did one, asking the bullpen to put up 7+ would seem excessive. That, and since clearly Stras wanted to go and looked so good up till the rain delay, they probably made a tactical decision that contradicts their long term plan.