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Nationals end Stephen Strasburg's season early over poor performance

All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg's season is over a bit earlier than expected after the young Washington Nationals right-hander struggled in his latest game, the team said on Saturday.

Manager Davey Johnson announced the move after Strasburg, 24, gave up five runs and six hits in three innings against the Miami Marlins on Friday, and informed an emotional Strasburg of the decision on Saturday.

The Nationals had already planned to end Strasburg's brilliant season early in a controversial decision made to protect their prized pitcher, who underwent elbow surgery in late 2010.

Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 draft, posted a 15-6 record with a 3.16 earned run average, and has helped the Nationals to the NL East division lead.

He had been scheduled to pitch in one more game on Wednesday in New York against the Mets even though he had already reached the innings limit the team had set for him this season.

Johnson said he acted now because of the intense media coverage of the impending decision and the debate about whether Strasburg should be allowed to continue pitching as Washington pursued the NL pennant.

“The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable,” Johnson told reporters on Saturday.

“I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change.”

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