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."
With strikeouts on mind, Collins talks Mets' approach
WASHINGTON -- One morning after striking out 15 times -- including 11 against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson -- Terry Collins revisited a familiar issue for his Mets.
For the second time this week, the Mets' manager addressed the number of strikeouts his team has compiled at the plate. The Mets have struck out 114 times through 16 games in August, a number that is just 10th most among National League teams. But given that Mets' batting average in that span is .231, tied for 12th in the National League -- as well as the fact that they have the fourth-most strikeouts (282 since the All-Star break) in the NL, the strikeouts have taken on higher precedence.
"Due to the teams that we have to face in our division and some of the teams we've been facing lately, we're seeing good pitching night after night," Collins said. "You hope you make an adjustment, and sometimes we've talked about it, where sometimes our approach of trying to make the pitcher work gets us in trouble, because we're behind. We're behind 0-2 before you can blink, and now you've got to expand the strike zone. The result, a lot of times, will be swinging and missing."
With the possibility for an early-season shutdown looming, Johan Santana was slated to throw long toss before Sunday's game against the Nationals. Collins said he would address Santana's status with general manager Sandy Alderson once the team returns to New York on Monday.
Ruben Tejada was given a break from the starting lineup Sunday as the Mets are slated to play 17 games over the next 18 days. Tejada is batting .314 (22-for-70) with a .780 OPS through 16 games in August.
Though they rank 10th in the Majors with a .259 batting average with runners in scoring position, the Mets are just 20-for-97 (.206) with RISP over their last 15 games. New York is first in the Majors with a .277 average with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.