Nationals maintain Stephen Strasburg's 2012 limit was right call

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WASHINGTON -- Three years later, the  Nationals still don't regret their decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg.

"You got to do what's right for the player," Nationals owner Mark Lerner said. "The Nationals organization did what's right, and we stand by that."

Now, the  New York Mets find themselves in a similar predicament.

Right-hander Matt Harvey will pitch on Tuesday, and he's two games shy of hitting a 180-inning cap doctors placed on him this season.

On Sunday, Harvey penned a letter to the Players' Tribune vowing to still pitch in the playoffs, an approach in contrast to the limit Washington placed on Strasburg prior to its 2012 postseason run.

"God forbid something happens to Matt Harvey." Lerner said. "If he goes too long, all these people are going to say coulda, woulda, shoulda."

The Nationals trail the Mets by four games for the NL East division lead. Washington opens a homestand against its division rival on the anniversary of Strasburg's shutdown.

While the move was questioned by many, the club's young ace handled it in stride.

"Stephen was a total professional about it," Lerner said.

Jordan Zimmermann, another key component to the Nationals' rotation, also dealt with an innings restriction as a result of Tommy John. He underwent surgery in mid-August 2009 and was slated to miss the entire 2010 season.

However, Zimmermann came back in 2010 to pitch 31 innings. The following year, Zimmermann was restricted to 160 innings.

"We set a game plan from the beginning, and I knew no matter what happened I was getting shut down," Zimmermann said. "Stras is a little more difficult because we were in a playoff run and had to shut him down. He was frustrated, like me, too -- we were both feeling good and wanted to keep pitching. But the smart thing was to shut him down."

Zimmermann's injury happened around the same time Harvey's did in their respective seasons. Though Harvey wanted to come back earlier, the Mets kept him out for an entire year.

"He should be [pitching] less, because I pitched 31 innings and then came back and threw 160," Zimmermann said. "He pitched none. Now they're trying to get him to 180 which doesn't make any sense. That's a huge jump for a guy who's never been over 180 before."

Right now, the Mets and Harvey seem to be on board with exceeding his innings cap. But, Zimmermann says he agrees with the more cautious way the Nationals have handled Tommy John recovery.

"I felt like I could pitch more, but you don't want to go over that mark and hurt yourself again and say 'Oh, we should have shut him down.'"

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