By Matt Spiegel-

After all these decades of baseball, preserving and utilizing a pitcher’s arm still is a remarkably inexact science.

There’s nothing more valuable than a top-of-the-line, front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

So how do you get the most out of your great arms? How do you make sure they give you 30-35 starts a year without losing effectiveness?

No one has the answer. Injury rates continue to rise wildly, even as methodology supposedly advances.

As the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg, they don’t know with any assurance whatsoever that he won’t get hurt again in the next year or two. That decision, in the face of the first Washington playoff run since 1933, is jaw-dropping and sad.

The White Sox’ plan with Chris Sale has been effective and intriguing. But here in September, he, like so many others, is not himself. He has learned to win without his best stuff.

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