The Washington Nationals (33-32) will take their season-long search for momentum to Ohio as they face off against the Cleveland Indians (32-33) for an interleague series.
The Indians are in second place in the AL Central, but recently suffered through an eight-game losing streak before taking two wins against the Texas Rangers this week. The Nationals also won their most recent two games, and have won four of their last five, so both teams are in a position to gain traction in the standings during this meeting.
The Indians are 18-12 at home, but Gio Gonzalez, who will get the ball in the series opener, will attempt to take away their home field advantage with his impressive stats there. Gonzalez has a 0.68 ERA with 27 strikeouts and a 4-0 record in four starts at Progressive Field.
The Nationals lost a series in Cleveland in 2010, putting their overall record against the Indians at 3-3, so they will be looking to attain their first road series win against the Indians in this faceoff.
The Indians have a solid offense, with a .256/.323/.426 slash line, and are tied for fifth-most home runs in the majors (77). However their pitching is not nearly as strong, which could be an opportunity for the recently resurgent Nationals bats to break out. Cleveland has the fourth-worst ERA in baseball (4.42), with the third-most walks (236) and a .251 batting average against.
Stephen Strasburg will make his first start since May 31, when he lasted only two innings against the Atlanta Braves due to a lat strain. With Strasburg back in the rotation, all five of the Nationals starting pitchers will be healthy for the first time since May 15.
After a slightly rocky start to his season, Strasburg had begun to settle in before getting injured. In his last five starts, he had posted a 1.20 ERA with 29 strikeouts, lasting through the seventh inning or later three times. The Nationals will look for him to resume that level of dominance in his return, as their chase of the first-place Braves heats up with the summer.
In The Zone
Ian Desmond (SS) .404 AVG, .433 OBP, .579 SLG, 2 HR, 12 RBI (15-game hitting streak)
Kipins (2B) .417 AVG, .481 OBP, .625 SLG, 1 HR, 3 SB (last six games)
Santana (C) .273 AVG, .333 OBP, .455 SLG, 4 2B (last six games)
Mark Reynolds (3B) .174 AVG, .208 OBP, .174 SLG, 9 SO (last six games)
Nick Swisher (1B) .125 AVG, .222 OBP, .125 SLG, 9 SO (last six games)
6/14, Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.59 ERA, .206 BAA, 74 SO) vs. Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.68 ERA, .223 BAA, 92 SO)
6/15, Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 2.00 ERA, .205 BAA, 61 SO) vs. Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.33 ERA, .299 BAA, 53 SO)
6/16, Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.54 ERA, .216 BAA, 73 SO) vs. Corey Kluber (4-4, 4.08 ERA, .265 BAA, 57 SO)