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Nats' Strasburg has 'probably' 2-3 starts to go

Associated Press Modified: August 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: August 30, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg has "probably" two or three starts remaining before he's done for the season, and he can no longer claim he wasn't told the shutdown was coming.

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he spoke to Strasburg about the right-hander's innings limit Wednesday night on the flight home from a series against the Miami Marlins.

"I said something to him on the plane, you know: 'You've got a few more to go,'" Johnson said before Thursday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals began the day with a five-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.

Johnson said Strasburg is down to "probably ... two or three" starts to go in the ace's first full season since undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery. General manager Mike Rizzo has said he'll have an intuitive feel for when to pull the plug, but Johnson said there's a "pretty firm plan" in place that's dependent on how long Strasburg stays in each game.

"He might pitch 10 innings one game, or he might just go five," Johnson said. "I asked Rizz, 'Do you want me to hook him after three? Save some innings?'"

Johnson quickly added, in case there was any doubt, that such an early hook is not an option. He also ruled out sending Strasburg to the bullpen.

"And, no, I'm not going to drag it out and give him seven days between starts, either," Johnson said.

The Nationals have not revealed the exact innings target for Strasburg, but the team shut down Jordan Zimmermann at 161 1-3 innings under similar circumstances last year. Strasburg has thrown 150 1-3, and leads the NL with 186 strikeouts.

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