WASHINGTON -- With Gio Gonzalez taking the mound for the Nationals in Sunday's series finale, the Mets didn't have to face Stephen Strasburg this weekend.
Nevertheless, manager Terry Collins sees where Nationals management is coming in their relentlessly debated decision to cap Strasburg's innings of the season, believed to be around 180.
"I certainly understand the decision. It's hard for both Stephen and the club to shut him down," Collins said. "But if he's still around, if he doesn't have any more surgeries for the next four or five years, they'll look back and think it's a great decision."
En route to a 14-5 record, 2.91 ERA and 173 strikeouts -- fifth most in the Majors -- Strasburg has tossed 139 1/3 innings. If current trends hold and his innings limit comes into play as expected, the 24-year-old right-hander figures to miss about four starts in September as the Nats battle for their first postseason berth since moving to Washington in 2005.
The Mets faced Strasburg twice this season, losing on both July 25 (5-2) and April 11 (4-0). New York batted just .136 against him in the pair of games, in which Strasburg allowed just one run over 13 innings.
"Our game is changing," Collins said. "As we know, the health of pitching is the key. With all of the fact-finding things that are out there now, they're realizing that workload is part of the issue. So even though these guys are bigger and stronger than they were 30 years ago, some of that strength may be one of those reasons why guys are breaking down, because they're so strong. Those major muscle groups are so much stronger than the smaller muscle groups now that there could be wear and tear."