Nats Manager Jim Riggleman consistently and continuously takes out his starters way too early. At the first sign of trouble, he runs to the bullpen. The bullpen has been run into the ground. But that's not the only downside of Riggleman's policy.
The Nats young pitchers have never figured out how to pitch when the going gets tough. Also, they get tired quickly. I contend that it's important to pitch deep into games because doing so builds up muscle memory for next time. Pitching deep into games is a skill that can be acquired through repetition. A similar theory holds true for Stephen Strasburg. He should pitch as much as possible this year. If he can throw 150 innings when the team isn't in a pennant race, it will be that much easier when it is in a race. But if he can't pitch that much when it doesn't really matter, how will he be able to when it does? The stress on his arm will be enormous.
It's a theory that marathon runners know well. You don't train 10 miles at a time and expect to run a crisp 26.2 on race day. The theory that pitchers will throw out their arms is nonsense and illogical. The ability to throw many pitches in a game and many innings during a season must be slowly built up.
In addition, Riggleman's babying has created a staff of mentally soft pitchers. They have no confidence in themselves past the 5th inning. Their desire to be saved from the game once one runner reaches base in the 6th is often tangible. Riggleman needs to go with these guys longer. A pennant is not in the cards this year. Why not build some fortitude in the staff.