The Nationals made it clear from the start that rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg would be on a strict pitch count. It prevents him from throwing too many innings as a rookie, removing a desire to prove himself by making too many pitches.

But there's also a belief that the only way pitchers build arm strength is by pitching more innings.

Still, the best time to start doing that is in the offseason. And there's no reason to risk a kid in his first season by overthrowing him (for a bad team, no less).

"For me, selfishly as a fan, I'm frustrated with it," ESPN analyst, and former big leaguer, Aaron Boone said. "But I also understand the notion of protecting a major asset ... With the other team knowing he's on a 95-100 pitch count, you wonder if at times that creeps into their [minds]. 'I have to pitch a little differently here because I want to hang around the game a little longer.'"

ESPN colleague Bobby Valentine agrees with Boone. But as a former manager he also knows that sometimes wiggle room is needed. Valentine said he was on Texas' staff when they started to adhere to pitch counts.

"When people use a strict number, regardless of how many innings have been thrown or how much effort is made, they're trying to make sure they keep their job a little longer," he said. "You have to use your brain and your eyes and your experience when making any decision. To be dictated by a raw number is less than what the educated and professional people can do."