Now, this idea first came up on another site completely unrelated to prospecting (athletexchange.com, sorta like a sports stock market that I recently started getting really into. Fun to try!).
Anyways, the debate was about Stephen Strasburg and how he could be handled from here on out. Most people suggesting that he return just for the WS seems like a terrible idea for the future of him, even worse than starting him throughout the year and the playoffs. But...
...one idea that struck me that I hadn't thought of was to convert him to a RP for the rest of the regular season. If you throw him as a setup man, have him let loose for an inning or two at a time (imagine the 7th and 8th innings, after facing Gio Gonzalez, you get a jacked up Strasburg letting it rip?). You do that from when he was shut down until the end of the regular season (so about 25 days), and you throw him like three innings a week. So right there he's up to 9 extra innings.
After that, you now have an option of re-starting him for the playoffs, leaving him in relief, or shutting him down. The arbitrary deadline of 160 innings seems senseless. If the deadline was 170, this would be perfect. If it was 180, he'd be starting for the rest of the year. If it was 200, he'd throw the WS. Some arbitrary number could prevent the Nationals from winning the world series.
Ask yourself, or a Cubs, Indians, Rangers, Astros, Brewers, Padres, Nationals, Pirates, or Mariners fan if they'd trade a superstar's age 30-35 seasons for a world series. I bet 90% of them would say yes. If not more. World Series wins last for a lifetime. Something that none of the above listed teams have had in 30 years. I'm sure they'd trade a few seasons of their best player for a WS win. Isn't that the goal of saving a player's innings, to make sure he's around to help win a WS? So doesn't logic dictate that the innings should be used here, where they have a legit chance to win a title?
I know there has been much animosity between groups about how to handle Strasburg, but don't you think that no matter what, he should be pitching in October? There's no part of me that thinks that the Nationals have a better shot winning without Strasburg.
And the Nats could squander a WS title away because they had an arbitrary number in mind, and decided that once he passed it he could no longer help the team win a title. On a career of two thousand innings (10 years of starting or so), what's the difference between 2000 or 2040? Especially if 2040 helps win a WS championship. It's all about increasing the odds, and Stras does just that.
How would you have handled the situation, assuming that you can't start him later or anything? Assume it's September 10, and you have to decide how to handle him from here on out, considering he's got 160 innings already on his arm, and talk about what your choice would be. Sacrifice some of the future for a WS shot? Play it safe and call it quits?