Ball Star rankings: The Strasburg Decision

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo decided early on this season that pitcher Stephen Strasburg would be shut down as soon as he reached between 160 and 180 pitches. Strasburg, 24, is in his first full season following Tommy John surgery.

Few expected Washington to be on the fast track to the playoffs, but here they are. Strasburg is at 133.1 innings pitched, so he likely would miss the postseason, and that's been tough to swallow for some.

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche told the Washington Post: “I get their side. But our side is, the playoffs aren’t guaranteed. You don’t want to shut your best guy down — or one of your best guys, because we’ve got a bunch of them — if you’re never going to go back there. If I knew for the next two or three years we’re going to go back, then it’s probably an easy decision.

“From my side of it, I’m sure (Ryan Zimmerman), Jayson (Werth), (Mark DeRosa), guys who have been around a while, it’s tough to go out there and bust it every night, then turn around and have one of your best guys shut down. Are we going to pout about it? No. We’re not going to go yell at Rizzo or (Manager Davey Johnson). No, it is what it is. It’ll be frustrating, but apparently we’re going to have to deal with it, because I think they’ve made up their minds.”

Here are the rankings:

1 Nationals: What would you do?

2 Rangers: This Josh Hamilton guy seems to have broken out of his funk.

3 Reds: Aroldis Chapman’s ERA+ is 327; the best-ever is Tim Keefe’s 295 in 1880.

4 Yankees: If it was September, CC wouldn’t have gone on the DL.

5 Braves: Regardless of how you feel about the Braves, Ben Sheets’ story is cool.

6 Pirates: Magic number is 18 (victories to clinch a winning season).

7 Giants: San Francisco has worst run differential of any division leader.

8 White Sox: Royals fans wouldn’t mind of Chicago gave Chris Sale a rest this weekend.

9 Rays: The Longo and short of it: Rays are 6-0 since Longoria’s return.

10 A's: Chris Carter’s OPS this year is 1.012.

11 Tigers: That mad dash to the Central title has stalled a bit.

12 Orioles: But can Manny Machado hit non-Royals pitching?

13 Cardinals: St. Louis is 42-42 since May 11.

14 Angels: LA has dropped four games in the standings since getting Greinke.

15 Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez is starting to look like his old (All-Star) self.

16 Diamondbacks: Arizona is one good run away from making it a three-team race in the West.

17 Red Sox: Free agency, not playoffs, to guide Big Papi’s return.

18 Blue Jays: Who wants to face this last place team?

19 Mets: R.A. Dickey may still lead league in strikeouts, but playoffs aren’t in picture.

20 Phillies: Philadelphia likely regrets giving Jimmy Rollins a three-year deal in the offseason.

21 Brewers: Bullpen helped win division last year; it’s keeping them from playoffs this year.

22 Mariners: Probably wish they played in the Central (16-12 record).

23 Marlins: Good thing Ozzie made that Castro comment early in the year.

24 Royals: Next loss will be No. 1,200 since Glass bought the team

25 Indians: Must be thrilled to see Derek Lowe’s success as a Yankee.

26 Twins: May have something in Sam Deduno.

27 Padres: Eight wins in their last 10. Fourth place is all theirs.

28 Cubs: At 32, David DeJesus must feel like an old man at Wrigley Field.

29 Rockies: Has just 22 home wins, the second-worst in baseball (behind the Royals).

30 Astros: Safe to assume fans have turned their attention to the Texans (and/or Dynamo).

| Pete Grathoff, pgrathoff@kcstar.com