Washington (CNN) -- The Washington Nationals -- the upstarts battling for a playoff spot -- ended the season of its star pitcher to keep him healthy for next year.
Stephen Strasburg made his last appearance of the 2012 season Friday, team spokesman John Dever confirmed to CNN.
Debate has raged in baseball over the rare move, particularly because the National League-East leading Nationals appear headed to a division title and a post-season berth.
The 24-year-old right-hander returned to the mound this season after "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow.
The Nationals said they would limit him to roughly 160 innings for the year to keep him from reinjuring his pitching arm.
Manager Davey Johnson made good on the promise after Strasburg's rough outing Friday night against the Miami Marlins.
A start Wednesday against the New York Mets was supposed to be Strasburg's final appearance this year.
The pitcher finished the season with a 15-6 record, 197 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA. He pitched 159 and 1/3 innings.