Stephen Strasburg to miss 2-3 starts

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson says Stephen Strasburg could miss his final two or three turns in the rotation during the regular season.

In his first full season after undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery, Strasburg is 15-5 with a 2.85 ERA and a National League-leading 183 strikeouts. The 24-year-old right-hander has thrown 145 1/3 innings, and the Nationals are thought to have given him a limit of 160-180.

"I think it came out that with the off days we'd need another starter for I think two starts," Johnson said after talking with general manager Mike Rizzo. "I think two starts, might have been three."

According to the Washington Post, Johnson also said Strasburg would be shut down for the playoffs.

However, Rizzo told the Post the Nationals do not yet have a specific target for ending Strasburg's year and said he, not Johnson, will decide when to sit the young pitcher.

"When I see with my eyes that he's had enough, he'll have enough," Rizzo said, according to the Post.

Washington began the day with a seven-game lead in the NL East, putting the city on track for postseason play for the first time since 1933. But the Braves beat the Nationals 5-1 on Wednesday night, cutting Washington's lead to six games.

The Nationals followed a similar plan last season with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-7 with a 2.54 ERA, second in the NL.

"It's funny; there wasn't anything said when we shut down Zimmermann," Johnson said.

Last year, Johnson announced a pitcher for Zimmermann's slot before he had the chance to inform all involved. He intends to change that this year.

"Everybody in the world will know about this one," Johnson said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.