Stephen Strasburg hopes the third time is the charm on Wednesday as he attempts to match a career high in wins when the Washington Nationals vie for a three-game series sweep against the visiting Cincinnati Reds. Strasburg, who won 15 games in 2012, 2016, 2017, emerged victorious in seven straight starts before surrendering five homers in his last two trips to the mound.
Juan Soto (ankle) and Brian Dozier (illness) each homered in their respective returns to the starting lineup in Tuesday's 4-2 win for Washington, which has won six of eight overall to strengthen its hold on the NL's top wild card. Soto has four homers, seven RBIs and six runs scored in his last five games heading into his first career encounter against Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer. Cincinnati's Joey Votto has reached base seven times (four hits, three walks) in the series and carries a five-game hitting streak into the finale. The 2010 NL MVP has enjoyed success versus Strasburg, going 6-for-18 with two homers in his career.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Trevor Bauer (10-8, 3.74 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72)
Bauer answered a lackluster first start with Cincinnati with a sterling second one on Friday, as the 28-year-old highlighted his one-run performance over seven innings with 11 strikeouts in a 5-2 win against the Chicago Cubs. The 28-year-old has registered seven games with double-digit strikeouts in 2019 while his total versus the Cubs was one shy of his season high. Bauer, who scattered four hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his lone career start against Washington, has flustered Adam Eaton (4-for-24), Dozier (8-for-39, seven strikeouts) and Kurt Suzuki (3-for-14).
Strasburg followed up a three-homer performance against Arizona on Aug. 3 by being taken deep twice six nights later to receive a no-decision against the New York Mets. Those results are staggering considering that the 31-year-old had allowed just one homer during a scintillating seven-start winning streak from June 21-July 28. Strasburg, who owns a 4-1 mark with a 4.01 ERA in nine career starts versus Cincinnati, has kept Derek Dietrich (2-for-24, six strikeouts) and Eugenio Suarez (2-for-12) under wraps.
1. Cincinnati LF Jesse Winker is 3-for-8 with a homer in the series after collecting just one hit in his previous nine at-bats.
2. Washington SS Trea Turner has hit safely in seven consecutive contests and owns a 21-game on-base streak.
3. Reds rookie RF Aristides Aquino went 0-for-4 on Tuesday to see his nine-game hitting streak and seven-game RBI run come to an end.