Johnson says Strasburg still has innings limit

Johnson says Strasburg still has innings limit

CINCINNATI -- It's early in the season, relatively speaking, but it's never too early to talk about Stephen Strasburg's innings limit. The Nationals announced in April that Strasburg, who returned from Tommy John surgery, would be limited to 160 innings in 2012.

Manager Davey Johnson said before Saturday's game that the limit is still in place, and that Strasburg will not be skipping starts.

Strasburg has been dominant through seven outings this year; he is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and has 51 strikeouts in 44 innings. He fanned 13 in his last start, a 4-2 win at Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Overall, the Nationals' pitching staff has been statistically the best in baseball -- and it's not even close. Washington's team ERA of 2.65 entering play Saturday was more than a half run lower than that of the St. Louis Cardinals, who were second in the Majors at 3.19.

"Numbers don't lie," Johnson said. "Right now, we've been stingier than anybody else. Our starters have all consistently had quality starts. The bullpen is probably a bit underrated, even with losing [Drew] Storen and [Brad] Lidge. We've lost some key players, but the rest of them have done a great job."