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Preview: Reds at Nationals

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 18 2014 08:35:41 PM CDT
Updated On: May 18 2014 08:35:42 PM CDT

After some uncharacteristically poor outings early in the season, Stephen Strasburg is starting to resemble his typically dominant self. The right-hander looks to post his sixth straight quality start Monday evening when his Washington Nationals open a three-game home series against the Cincinnati Reds. Strasburg is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA over his last five games, although his career ERA against the Reds is his highest against any opponent.Mike Leake, who like Strasburg was a top 10 draft pick in 2009, gets the nod for Cincinnati. The Reds are coming off a series loss at Philadelphia in which they were outscored 20-4 over the final two games. The Nationals won two of three at home against the New York Mets over the weekend, with Wilson Ramos driving in four runs in Sunday's 6-3 triumph.TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), MASN (Washington)PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mike Leake (2-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.48)The Reds have lost each of Leake's last five starts, even though he has pitched well during that stretch -- particularly this month. Leake has a 1.96 ERA in three May starts and was not involved in the decision Tuesday against San Diego despite allowing only one run and two hits in eight innings. Several Nationals players have terrific career numbers against Leake, including Jayson Werth (7-for-17), Ian Desmond (7-for-20), and Ramos (4-for-12, two home runs).Strasburg has allowed only one home run over his previous five outings and worked at least seven innings in three of his last four starts. However, he has been much better at home this season (3-1, 2.30 ERA) than on the road (0-2, 5.09). Strasburg is 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA lifetime against Cincinnati, including a 6-3 road loss last season. WALK-OFFS1. Leake is 3-3 with a 5.53 ERA in eight career starts against the Nationals.2. The Reds could look to jump on Strasburg early, as opponents are batting 13-for-27 when facing an 0-0 count against the Nationals' right-hander.3. Washington's bullpen pitched 13 scoreless innings in the Mets series.PREDICTION: Nationals 2, Reds 1

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