Amid all the talk, Strasburg focused only on next start

Amid all the talk, Strasburg focused only on next start

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg said Saturday that no one in the Nationals organization has told him that his season will come to an end soon. As of now, he is looking forward to making his next start, which will be against the Braves on Tuesday.

"Nobody said anything to me. I'm going out there to finish this year and go to the playoffs," Strasburg said. "That's a goal of mine. I just want to keep pitching well and help this team win as many games as we can."

According to a source, it's likely that Strasburg, who has thrown 139 1/3 innings this season, could throw as many as 180, exceeding the 160 that was originally believed to be his limit for the season. The innings limit is similar to what teammate Jordan Zimmermann went through last season, his first full year back in the Majors after having Tommy John surgery in 2009.

The same source went so far as to say that Strasburg will not pitch in the postseason once he is shut down.

"I don't know what the decision is and everything, but we're not there yet," Strasburg said. "So that's what I keep telling myself. We still have to finish out the season. When we get to that point, we have to figure that out. For right now, I'm getting ready for my next start."

While Strasburg doesn't know how many total innings he will throw in 2012, he is grateful about how the Nationals have taken care of his arm after he had the elbow reconstruction in late 2010.

"It's a real classy organization. They treat every guy the same," Strasburg said. "It doesn't matter what name you have on the back of your jersey. I respect that. They really want to develop every guy all the way up to [the big leagues], and give everyone the best opportunity to succeed.

"At the same time, I want to be that guy can they lean on when it's crunch time. I want to be the horse in the rotation, throw 200 innings every year. I want to shut the door every fifth day. That's a goal of mine. I'm still in the process of getting to that point. I'm going to keep plugging along and roll with the punches."

Strasburg is 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA, and is second in the National League in strikeouts with 173. He also has a 2.19 ERA during afternoon games, which is second best in the NL.

Asked how his arm was doing, Strasburg said, "I feel great. The program that I got on the last couple of years, especially coming off the Tommy John, it has really helped me get through a season. I think this is a good test for me this year -- so far. This is my first chance to have an in-season program and getting used to pitching every five days.

"Looking back on it, the first year [2010], I wish I knew as much as I do now. The workouts, the running, it just wasn't enough. What I've been doing this year, it has really helped me throughout the year. You obviously are going to hit a wall around 100 games, and I feel I've gotten past my wall. I feel like I'm still building. Everything is good right now. I'm going to keep it in my power to keep it that way."

If Strasburg doesn't pitch in the postseason, the NL East-leading Nationals would likely use four starters in a series, with a fifth starter working out of the bullpen.

"If we weren't winning, I don't think it would as big as a story," Strasburg said. "It's something I'm not really stressing about. People are going to talk. I learned that my first year. They are going to say what they are going to say. ... That's their opinion. The thing about the internet is, you can put anything out there and some people take it for facts."