Johnson announced Strasburg, who has thrown 156 1/3 innings to date, will make two more starts after his six shutout innings in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Cardinals. Before Monday's series opener with the Cubs, the Nats' manager explained how Strasburg took the news in the meeting with Johnson, general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty.
"McCatty, Mike Rizzo, myself and [Strasburg], we were able to have a nice little conversation," Johnson said. "He hates McCatty more than he did before the meeting, and me and Rizzo. It's no secret that [Strasburg] is an intense competitor, that he wants to be here, wants to be contributing, wants to be helping, and I'm sure it's probably eating him up more than anybody involved in this whole thing, because he wants to be here and helping his teammates.
"He's worked harder than anybody coming back from that surgery, and this is what you dream about being a part of. I know how he feels."
The Nationals set out from the beginning of the season with an innings limit for Strasburg, believed to be between 160 and 180 innings, in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in September 2010. After Sunday's gem, the 24-year-old right-hander is 15-6 with a 2.94 ERA and a National League-leading 195 strikeouts.
When asked if Strasburg understands the decision to shut him down, Johnson said, "probably not."
"I'm not sure any of us understand, but it's the right thing to do," Johnson said. "The way I look at things, the job that the [team owners, the Lerner family] and the front office have done building this organization, I don't look at this as the only chance you're going to get to be in the postseason, the World Series. This team wasn't just piecemealed together for one year. It was built to last, and we're trying to make sure it lasts."
After Sunday's game, Strasburg said he was expecting to have a talk with Johnson soon.
"I just don't have anything to say," Strasburg said. "I'm in it with these guys and we've still got a long way to go, but I'm going to fight with [Rizzo] until the end."
The Nationals recalled left-hander John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday to eventually fill Strasburg's role in the rotation. Lannan will initially pitch out of the bullpen before assuming Strasburg's spot in the rotation. In two starts with the Nats this season, Lannan is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
If the Nationals do in fact reach the postseason, it is widely expected they will opt for a four-man rotation of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler. Lannan would then return to the bullpen.