Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch in trip to Houston

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
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Strasburg vs. Keuchel

The final game of this series should be a fun one to watch as two pitchers with ten or more wins will go head-to-head. Keep in mind that we will have Eric Hyusman of Climbing Tal’s Hill on the DoDcast postgame show after the game to talk about what happened in this series.

Strasburg made his return to the rotation on Saturday and did not disappoint against the Padres. He did get the loss, but he gave up two runs (one home run) and struck out eight over six innings. Out of those eight strikeouts, five of them came via the changeup and the fastball got up to 98 miles-per-hour.

Now, Max Scherzer would’ve been on turn to start this game and make it a battle of Cy Young award winners, but he went on the disabled list Friday night. Nevertheless, this should still be a good pitching matchup.

One hitter to watch against Strasburg is Astros catcher Brian McCann. McCann is on the disabled list right now with an injured knee, but he’s expected to return to the team Thursday. If he plays, he is 7-for-20 with a home run against Strasburg in his career from his time with the Braves and Yankees.

As for Keuchel, he’s only made 16 starts this season because he spent nearly two months on the disabled list due to a pinched nerve in his neck. His first couple starts coming off the disabled list weren’t great, but now he’s returned to form.

In his last two starts, Keuchel has given up one run, struck out ten, and walked four over 13.2 innings. Before he went on the DL, the 29-year-old left-hander was undefeated in his first 11 starts and was looking on pace to win another Cy Young award (won the award in 2015).

Keuchel is tough to hit in any ballpark, but when he pitches at home, it’s extremely tough for opposing hitters. In seven home starts this year, he is 5-1 with a 1.35 ERA and has given up seven runs in 46.2 innings. That’s nothing compared to two years ago when he was 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 18 starts at home.

Two names to keep an eye on against Keuchel on the Nats are Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman. Kendrick is 8-for-18 with a double, a home run, and two RBI’s against him while Zimmerman is 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBI’s.

When it’s time for October, both of these pitchers will be under pressure to perform for their respective ballclubs. For now, with both teams basically playoff locks, this will be a matchup that will be fun to watch.