Stephen Strasburg isn’t reporting any physical issues anymore, which is no doubt making his struggles all the more frustrating.
The Cincinnati Reds finally ended their lengthy losing streak this week only to have another frustrating defeat result in a team meeting.
The Reds look to add to Strasburg’s woes in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Strasburg (3-5, 6.50 ERA) allowed six runs over 3 2-3 innings in Saturday’s 8-1 home defeat to Philadelphia, leaving him at 1-3 with a 10.20 ERA in his last four outings. He has failed to pitch through the fourth inning in all three losses.
The poor four-start stretch began with Washington (28-19) saying that Strasburg had shoulder problems before later stating he was suffering from lower back tightness. Now it seems that he is healthy, though still pitching poorly.
"Yeah, it’s frustrating," Strasburg said. "I’m not pitching to my ability, but I’ve got to keep grinding."
The right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati. Marlon Byrd has faced him the most among the Reds, going 6 for 19 with a home run.
Cincinnati (19-27) ended its longest losing streak in 17 years at nine with Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Colorado. The Reds fell 6-4 to the Rockies the next day and held a closed-door meeting afterward.
"Nobody likes talking about the last 11 games," manager Bryan Price said. "Nobody in there is bringing in any dancing girls."
Brandon Phillips struck out as a pinch hitter after not starting for the second straight day because of a sore left foot. Cincinnati has lost the last 10 games he’s played.
"Brandon hits leadoff if he’s healthy and he’s a little gimped up with the foot and I’m hoping that by just having him hit today one time, having tomorrow off, getting more treatment, getting in here on Friday that he’ll be good to go," Price said.
The Reds average 3.70 runs to rank second to last in the NL while the Nationals are first at 4.66.
Bryce Harper has homered in the last two games for Washington after hitting a solo shot in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He leads the majors with 43 RBIs and a .745 slugging percentage.
The slugger also tops the NL with 18 home runs, with the Reds’ Todd Frazier second with 14. Frazier homered twice in three games against the Rockies this week.
Washington leadoff hitter Denard Span is batting .429 on the road this month to match San Francisco’s Nori Aoki for the NL lead.
No National has more than two at-bats against the Reds’ Anthony DeSclafani (2-4, 3.46), who gave up one run in seven innings of Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Cleveland. The right-hander, who didn’t get the decision, had gone 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in his previous four starts.
DeSclafani’s only three appearances against Washington have been in relief.
The Nationals, winners of 21 of 27, split six meetings with the Reds in 2014.