May 29, 2015, 3:51 PM EST
It’s probably not fair to say this about any start in late May, especially for a team that has won 21 of its last 27 games, but this sure feels like a really important start for Stephen Strasburg. He has failed to get out of the fourth inning three times in his last four outings. His ERA has skyrocketed to 6.50. And his confidence level (at least outwardly) appears at an all-time low.
The Nationals have intended all along to put Strasburg back on the mound every fifth day (barring a physical ailment) and hope he rights his ship by pitching well, not by taking time off. But eventually, he’s going to need to put together something resembling a quality start. And tonight, against a Reds lineup that doesn’t score many runs and strikes out a lot, would seem like a good opportunity to get on track.
Michael Taylor, meanwhile, starts in left field tonight, and the sense is that the rookie will get the most opportunities to fill in for Jayson Werth there, with Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson also in the mix. Taylor and the red-hot Nats lineup tonight face Cincinnati right-hander Anthony DeSclafini, who sports a 3.46 ERA but is walking 4 batters per 9 innings, a sky-high rate.
Unfortunately I’m not in Cincinnati for this weekend’s series, but please keep up the conversation here and check back in the morning for remote analysis…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at CINCINNATI REDS
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 185/869
Weather: Chance of rain, 80 degrees, Wind 9 mph in from RF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Michael Taylor
RHP Stephen Strasburg
SS Zack Cozart
1B Joey Votto
3B Todd Frazier
RF Jay Bruce
C Brayan Peña
LF Marlon Byrd
2B Skip Schumaker
RHP Anthony DeSclafini
CF Billy Hamilton
HP Jerry Meals (cc)
1B Andy Fletcher
2B Paul Emmel
3B Jordan Baker
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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