Nationals-Marlins Preview

The possibly imminent shutdown of Stephen Strasburg is one of

the popular topics in Washington these days, but it won’t come soon

enough for the Miami Marlins.

The Nationals’ young right-hander has thrown 27 consecutive

scoreless innings against the Marlins, and he’ll try to help

Washington end a four-game slide in the opener of a two-game set in

Miami on Tuesday night.

Strasburg (15-5, 2.85 ERA) is up to 145 1-3 innings for the

season, and the organization’s stance on protecting him has sparked

a debate among fans and media.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals (77-50) will shut

down Strasburg for the season at some point, but won’t divulge a

timetable or a targeted number of innings. The club isn’t concerned

about outside opinions on the subject.

“It’s really easy for the bloggers and the tweeters and all

those people to say `Why don’t you do this?’ or ‘We can do that.

Get him out of the bullpen’ and blah, blah, blah, blah,” manager

Davey Johnson said. “I’ve heard it all, and I said, it’s a good

thing you guys aren’t managing, and I’m the one that’s managing.

You do what’s best for the player. Always. No. 1.”

This outing comes after Washington totaled five runs in getting

swept by Philadelphia over the weekend. Johnson was heard screaming

at someone in the clubhouse after Rizzo was seen entering it after

a 4-1 loss Sunday, with the manager sarcastically suggesting that

person “come down here” and run the team.

Johnson afterward would only say that he had “a discussion with

my boss” after Washington’s fourth straight loss – one shy of

matching its season high.

There’s no arguing how Strasburg has dominated the Marlins

(58-71), having not allowed a run against them since Sept. 17 – a

stretch spanning five starts that lasted six innings apiece. He’s

struck out 19 and walked three over three games against Miami this

year, earning two victories.

Shortstop Jose Reyes is the Marlins regular who has troubled him

the most, going 4 for 9 with two doubles. Giancarlo Stanton is 1

for 8 with four strikeouts against Strasburg, but Stanton hit eight

homers during Miami’s just-completed 11-game road trip.

Strasburg improved to 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in August by allowing

one run over six innings of a 4-1 win over Atlanta last Tuesday.

His nine road wins are one fewer than teammate Gio Gonzalez’s

NL-leading total.

Miami’s Ricky Nolasco (9-12, 5.07) was on the mound for both of

Strasburg’s victories over the Marlins this year, and he gets the

unlucky matchup again. He’s gone 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in those

outings.

The right-hander is 1-6 with a 6.70 ERA in eight starts since

the All-Star break. Nolasco gave up five runs over five innings of

a 6-5, 10-inning win at Arizona last Tuesday.

The Nationals could have shortstop Ian Desmond and first baseman

Michael Morse in the lineup Tuesday. Neither has started since last

Wednesday – Desmond due to a strained right hamstring and Morse

because of a right hand contusion.

Although these teams are at opposite ends of the NL East

standings, Washington has only taken seven of 13 matchups. Reyes is

hitting .352 with six doubles in the season series while Adam

LaRoche has three homers, seven RBIs and nine runs for the

Nationals.

The Marlins are starting a nine-game homestand after ending a

four-game slide with a 6-2 win over the Dodgers on Sunday.