Strasburg, Nationals look to avoid sweep vs. Dodgers (Sep 17, 2017)

BY AP • September 16, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The owners of the top four ERAs in the National League all reside with either the first-place Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers.

That would be Clayton Kershaw (2.12) of the Dodgers and three Washington starters: Max Scherzer (2.59), Stephen Strasburg (2.64) and Gio Gonzalez (2.68).

Kershaw, Scherzer and Gonzalez are not slated to pitch in Washington this weekend, so Strasburg (13-4) will have to carry the torch when he faces lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-7, 3.59) of the Dodgers on Sunday night in the finale of the three-game series. The teams met last year in the National League Division Series, won in five games by the Dodgers.

The current series "is kind of like recon. It's good to see these guys if we do play them (in October)," Washington outfielder Jayson Werth said.

Strasburg is certainly no second fiddle to any of the other pitchers.

The right-hander from San Diego is on the best run of his major League career, which began here on a June night in 2010 when he fanned 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in a nationally televised contest.

His outing against the Dodgers will come on the Sunday ESPN game of the week. Strasburg has not allowed a run in his last 34 innings after going eight scoreless innings at home Sept. 10 against the Philadelphia Phillies in a 3-2 win.

"He has great command right now," Washington manager Dusty Baker said after that start. "He has great command of his fastball, and they're not picking up his changeup or slider."

Strasburg, since returning from the disabled list Aug. 19 with a right elbow nerve impingement, is 3-1 with a 0.51 ERA and has just four walks while fanning 41.

"It just comes with trust. That's the biggest thing," Strasburg said after beating the Phillies. "Trust your ability, trust your stuff, and you go out there and kind of sleep well at night, no matter what happens."

Of course, the Dodgers' offense -- which hit three homers Friday and has 202 this year -- will be more of a challenge than offered by the Phillies.

Current Dodgers hitters are 22-for-120 (.183) in regular-season play against Strasburg. Third baseman Justin Turner is 2-for-3 with two homers while shortstop Corey Seager is 1-for-3 with one homer.

In six career starts against the Dodgers, Strasburg is 1-2 and has a 2.82 ERA and has allowed two runs or fewer in five of those six starts.

This will be the first time in his career he has faced the Dodgers twice in one regular-season.

In June, Strasburg was tagged with the loss in Los Angeles despite allowing just three hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings.

Ryu was skipped in the rotation in favor of right-hander Kenta Maeda on Monday. Ryu then threw a bullpen session in San Francisco on Tuesday and said he was ready to go.

Ryu was tagged with the loss in June in his only career start against the Nationals. He gave up seven hits and four runs in seven innings in the 4-2 setback.

His previous start was Sept. 5 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. He gave up just one run on three hits in six innings and did not factor in the decision as the Dodgers lost 3-1.

Ryu lost 6-4 at Arizona on August 30 in his previous start.

"They made him for some mistakes," catcher Austin Barnes told reporters after that game.

The Dodgers, who won 3-2 Saturday and have allowed just four runs and eight hits in the first two games, will go for the sweep Sunday.

So have the Dodgers erased some doubts?

"I think so," Los Angeles manager Roberts said Saturday. "I guess the way we were going that (doubt) may have crept in a little bit. (We are) trying to get that swagger back."

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