Unfortunately for them, Washington’s hitters will have to face that pitcher.
Standout rookie Jaime Garcia(notes) gets the ball Friday night for the St. Louis Cardinals - in desperate need of a stopper after three straight losses to last-place opponents - when they continue their four-game road set with the Nationals.
With its fifth straight losing season all but a certainty, but also boasting a growing base of young talent, Washington (54-74) is focused on the future. The future of the game’s most hyped young pitcher, however is uncertain.
Strasburg, who left Saturday’s start against Philadelphia with a forearm injury, underwent his second MRI exam in less than a week Thursday. The results are expected to be announced Friday.
“I’m very anxious about that,” manager Jim Riggleman said.
Strasburg is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings for Washington, but the Cardinals’ less-heralded rookie has been possibly even better. Garcia (11-6, 2.42 ERA) leads rookie qualifiers in wins, ERA and opponents’ batting average (.233), giving St. Louis a third top starter in a rotation that boasts Adam Wainwright(notes) and Chris Carpenter(notes).
Garcia, who will face the Nationals for the first time, enjoyed what he called “the greatest day of my baseball career” Sunday against San Francisco. The left-hander posted his first shutout, limiting the Giants to three hits in a 9-0 victory while striking out six and facing one batter over the minimum. He has thrown 15 innings without allowing an earned run over his last two starts.
The Cardinals (68-57) sorely need another strong outing from Garcia, as they have allowed 20 runs during a three-game skid against underwhelming competition. After dropping the final two games to major league-worst Pittsburgh, St. Louis lost the opener of this series 11-10 in 13 innings Thursday.
The Cardinals, losers of eight of 11, trail Cincinnati by four games in the NL Central.
They may benefit from a matchup with Washington’s Scott Olsen(notes) (3-6, 5.21), who has compiled a 9.33 ERA while losing all four August outings. The left-hander gave up four runs in six innings of a 6-0 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday.
Olsen is 1-4 with a 6.10 ERA in five starts versus the Cardinals, whom he hasn’t faced since 2008.
Albert Pujols(notes) continued to roll for St. Louis on Thursday, hitting his 400th career home run, adding a double and scoring three times. He has batted .429 with 11 homers, 22 RBIs and 29 runs in his last 22 games.
He may not be able to play Friday, however. The first baseman twisted his right ankle when he tried to plant his foot on the tarp to reach for a foul ball in the 10th inning. He didn’t leave the game, but wasn’t sure how his ankle would feel in the morning.
“I was sore,” Pujols said. “I stayed in the game sore. I know it was going to take more than that to take me out of the game. I knew my team needed me out there.”