The Washington Nationals were able to break out of a four game skid with a 3-2 win on June 20 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Stephen Strasburg picked up his ninth win of the year, while Tyler Clippard converted for his tenth save.
To say that Stephen Strasburg has been dominant this year would be an understatement, as he pitched another great game against the Rays by going seven innings strong and giving up two runs on five hits to go with 10 strikeouts for the game. Stephen improved his record to 9-1 on the year, leads the National League in strikeouts with 110, and has a 2.46 ERA as well. The guy has just been amazing this year, with the only question being how long the Nationals are willing to use him considering that they have him on some kind of innings limit this year.
I don't think it would be feasible to just shut him down with a month to go in the season, especially if they are contending for a playoff spot. However, the Nationals have to be aware of what happened to Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs a few years back and don't want that happening to Strasburg, so there is a fine line to draw in all of this. The best option in my opinion is to put Ross Detwiler in as a sixth starter after the All-Star break, allowing everyone in the rotation to get accustomed to the change while giving Strasburg the rest he needs.
While the Nationals only had three hits in the game against the Rays, Ian Desmond had the clutch third hit that brought in Ryan Zimmerman for the third run. Desmond now has hits in six straight games, and he seems to be comfortable hitting in the back end of the lineup as opposed to leading off. With a .265 average to go with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs, Ian has provided some pretty good production for a team that sorely needs it right now, and he could certainly blossom into a power hitting-type shortstop (somewhat like Miguel Tejada but has a long ways to go) as he continues to get more playing time in Washington D.C.
The Nationals will look to take the rubber game of the series against the Rays on June 21, when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound against Matt Moore. I think any casual fan would have realized that it was going to be a tough outing for the Nationals offensively against Tampa Bay's starting pitching in this series, but if they can get some timely hitting like they got in the previous game I could certainly see them pulling through with another 3-2 or 4-3 victory.
Ryan Kekoufski lives near the Nationals' stadium and has been following the team ever since they moved to Washington D.C.