Marlins open series at home vs. Nationals

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.