Stephen Strasburg threw six more innings last night, pitching around a rain delay (bad for the arm!) to record his 15th victory this season. By our calculations, if Strasburg keeps biting off 6 innings per start (his norm in good outings for much of the season), he will hit that magical 180 inning maximum that he is being allowed by Nationals brass on Sept. 24. By then, Washington could very well have a playoff spot sewn up. Strasburg, of course, won't be pitching in those playoffs as it stands now.

If all goes well, by that point Adrian Peterson will have already played in three regular-season games for the Vikings -- the first coming a little more than eight months after major surgery to repair his knee. While most reasonable folks know this is a rebuilding year -- we said reasonable folks -- the Vikings are still plowing ahead with a plan to have their franchise player return on an aggressive (not haphazard, but aggressive) timetable from a torn ACL. Sure, they have been somewhat cautious about letting him practice in camp and in announcing officially Tuesday that Peterson will not play in any preseason games, but signs still point to the very real possibility of AP being on the field Week 1.

This is, at the very least, an interesting dichotomy. Granted, these are different injuries -- Tommy John surgery is not ACL surgery (avoiding a cheap shot about local medical staffs here). But both involve the dearest parts of standout players: Strasburg's golden arm and Peterson's powerful leg.

The Nationals are taking heat for saying they will shut Strasburg down to protect his future. They are largely the victims of their own (and Strasburg's) success, as we would not be having this discussion if they were 20 games out of first place instead of 7 games up. The argument: If he is healthy now, let him pitch in a pennant race because nothing about the future is guaranteed either way.

Interestingly, the Vikings and Peterson have been dinged (albeit less so) by opinions that Peterson is coming back too soon even though doctors and Peterson say he is healthy. "I feel that I rushed myself back to the football field. And I think that with Adrian Peterson, he's doing the same thing," Jerry Rice said last week.

There is no black and white right/wrong in either case. But we will say this: It's admirable that Peterson has worked his way back so quickly, even for a season that could wind up being a lost cause. If he can play at 100 percent, he should play. Same goes for Strasburg -- even if a second major elbow injury could mean the end of his dominance. He is two years removed from the surgery. Let him pitch.

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