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Stephen Strasburg vs. Ryan Howard, Part 1

In addition to Stephen Strasburg making his third start since coming off the disabled list, tonight's game against the Phillies is particularly intriguing because of the rookie pitcher's first head-to-head matchup against slugging first baseman Ryan Howard, who is back after missing 16 games with a sprained left ankle.

With Howard hitting cleanup, the Phillies' lineup is significantly more potent. In Howard's absence, Jayson Werth had been batting fourth, and although he has 16 homers and 61 RBI, he's not nearly the threat Howard is. Despite his recent stint on the disabled list, Howard still ranks second in the the NL in RBI (81) and is tied for 10th with 23 home runs.

"He's a guy you're always kind of looking an inning or two ahead as to when he's coming up and how you might have to deal with him, whether you use a lefty in the bullpen or get the opportunity to pitch around him," Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's just an extremely powerful guy, can hit the ball out of the ballpark at any field. Here in Philadelphia the ball really jumps, so he's a very dangerous guy."

Strasburg will make his first start against the Phillies, who are in the thick of the wild-card chase while trying to catch Atlanta for NL East lead. Philadelphia is 2 1/2 games behind the Braves.

"I think the whole lineup is really a bunch of veteran hitters," Riggleman said. "A lot of guys who are playing in the primes of their career. [Chase] Utley, Werth, [Raul] Ibanez is a bit older but still in great shape, a lot of baseball left, and Howard. Just so many good professional hitters over there. Jimmy Rollins, [Placido] Polanco. The whole lineup is going to be a big test, but good pitching stops good hitting. If Stephen goes out and throws good, then he's going to give us a chance to win."

By Gene Wang  |  August 21, 2010; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Strasburg removed with apparent injury

Comments

And after all the accolades for the Phillies you still insist on playing pathetic hitters like Harris, Nieves and Maxwell, Riggleman? And we can't see what Ramos can do because you are too busy respecting "the game and your veterans"? What about respecting the fans that have to suffer through your futility?

Posted by: periculum | August 21, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't ask for much from this team, but I'd really like to cash in a few agony chips and ask for good game tonight. Would love to see some clutch hitting and Jesus making 'em whiff.

I really, really, really, really, really, really hate the Phillies. And you know their sub-human scum fans will be all over Stras tonight. Make it a good one kid!

P.S. I hate the Phillies

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey K29 - don't hang back, man, tell us how you really feel about Philly!

'Cause I'll say it flat out - I do not much care for Philadelphia ballplayers and their fans. Oh yeah, I said it.

Posted by: NATurallyYours | August 21, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I can't really post how much I hate the Philly Phans. I have grown to like the players (esp. Victorino) over the years, who have to play in front of this crowd. Nice ballpark too, esp. compared to the Vet!

Kennedy should've taken the plunk on inside ball 1. Ah, but looks like he walks in the first run anyway! C'mon Pudge -- let's give the Kid some cushion to start with and then mow them down!

We'll see what this long top of first will do for the Phenom -- after getting his rhythm in warm-ups, he might want to throw again!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 21, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

3 runs with two outs. Good start.

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Looked like Howard was off the bag, but I'll take that for a first inning. Always a nice sight when your starting pitcher walks out on deck on the top if the first

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Please have a seat Mr. Rollins

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I thought Harris was out, but who knows. Great play by Utley.

Great sports night tonight, nice to flip between football and baseball.

Even with a big lead the Nats are not safe in Phily, as the Dodgers found out the other day. Strassie looks SHARP early though.

http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Good job making those 3 look inept...which isn't hard for Phillie...especially their fans.

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I so echo the comments on Phily fans, BTW. I actually was with 2 Philly fans a couple of weeks back Saturday night and even they were disgusted by the Jerry Springer crowd that bused down. Seriously, police had to escort us out in our own park after the Nats won...

Going up to Phily tommorrow but a Sunday crowd shouldnt be too bad...

http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

When Nyjer almost goes yard, you know you're playing on a whiffleball field.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Going up to Phily tommorrow but a Sunday crowd shouldnt be too bad

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Good luck with that, CJ

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Charley and Dave said Nyjer shouldn't have gone but I disagree -- be agresseive and make them make the play -- and they did.
Should have sent him last night, what's to lose, already in last place.

Posted by: Natmeister | August 21, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Sure make them make the play, but that was an easy play. Stras looking good!

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

early in the game, already up 3, fast man--yeah, make the pitcher throw you out. I'd send him, but it's not the coach's call--it's a reflex play for Nyjer.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 21, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

If you can stomach it, look into the crowd tonight. What a convention of butt heinous gremlins. How on earth can the residents of one city be so ugly?

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy bats in Zimmerman! Way to go!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 21, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Clutch hit Kennedy!

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

At least Riggs is getting Willie Harris playing time.

Posted by: JT2009 | August 21, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Kennedy actually somewhat clutch for once tonight...

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Desi looks really smooth out there at short tonight (gotta give him some credit, not just criticism)

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

That IS a bunch of butt-ugly Philly phans behind home plate.

FWIW, I was at the game a couple of weeks ago when Zimm hit the walk-off off Lidge, and while the Philly fans were loud, they weren't obnoxious, (at least not in section 407) and my walk back to lot H was completely uneventful. Had a pleasant chat with a couple of Philly fans, in fact.

I heard other people's mileage varied, though.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 21, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I think I have another watershed example of Strasburg's work ethic. Hustling down the line to beat the throw on the DP plated another run (his first RBI?) showed a lot of character. And, another run doesn't hurt! 5-0!

I know how those Phillies fans feel watching Kendrick struggle and get shelled... I was at Nats Park last Saturday niht when Marquis pitched...

Posted by: mo_dc | August 21, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

It really depends if you get a Phily bus-crew behind you, gilbert. Met a new Phily friend that series who invited my girlfriend and I up Sunday to the game.

There's alot of great fans/people up there. It's just 15-20 percent that ruin everything...

BTW, I am so tired of everybody pimping the rotation once it's set (Dibble/Holliday). It looks promising, but JZ and Detwiller are hardly sure things as #2 and #3. I mean I think JZ is gonna be good, but he had a 4.63 ERA before he got hurt last year (I get he's a rook)and he's got a long ways to go...not like we'll necessarily be better off right away or even at all...

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Pudge and Stras look to be struggling with their communication tonight - wonder what's going on there.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, a quick shout-out to dargramps for the reply a few games ago.

I took the reverse-lock last night to have an evening doing something other than baseball. Figuring Marquis vs Halladay would be a laugher. Fortunately I saw the score and was able to record the repeat on MASN in the wee hours.

Marquis did well, showing signs of respectability. And, Desi definitely had 3rd base stolen on that unfortunate combo that led to the DP. He had 3 hits and is swinging the bat well in 1-1/2 games at CBP.

Phans are u-g-l-y, they ain't got no alibi!

Posted by: mo_dc | August 21, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Nats can't stop hitting, letting Kendrick get a little too comfy here.

Stras on 48 pitches, good but could use a couple quick ones vs the back of the lineup.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

JZ is gonna be good, but he had a 4.63 ERA before he got hurt last year (I get he's a rook)and he's got a long ways to go...not like we'll necessarily be better off right away or even at all...

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Znn was pitching hurt before he got shut down last year and had TJ surgery. He's been Stephen-Strasburg lights-out in Syracuse - 0.53 ERA and 0.647 WHIP. Having him and Stras in the rotation is going to give the Nats the power pitchers in the rotation that they've been needing.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 21, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Man is it nice to see a Nats pitcher dominate Ibanez. That guys kills us

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh boy...

Posted by: amorris525 | August 21, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

ARGHHHH!!!! Don't say "elbow!!!"

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 21, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Man is it nice to see a Nats pitcher dominate Ibanez. That guys kills us

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:39 PM

Why does God hate me?

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping "injury delay" was for another player.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 21, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

They might as well shut down Strasburg for the year. This is ridiculous. Too much kid gloves.

Guy could have pitched.

Don't be fooled into buying tickets for any Strasburg start the rest of the year.

http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

He won't be a superstar if he is made of glass.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 21, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

>I was hoping "injury delay" was for another player.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello

Confirmed: Looked directly at his elbow and winced

Posted by: Brue | August 21, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

He won't be a superstar if he is made of glass.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | August 21, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

That was serious pain on his face. C'mon Nats win one for Strassburg.

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The wince was pretty bad. But let's just hope for the best. I guess he's starting to realize what it's like to throw that hard every fifth game.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

No doubt about it. Whatever happened, happened to his elbow. And that was probably his best start of the year, given who he was facing.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 21, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

The Curse of Les Nationalez continues. This sucks!

Posted by: richs91 | August 21, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Remember when people were calling for Desi to get demoted this morning? He's hitting around .380 this month.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Desmond is on a tear.

Seriously Strasburg's injury could have easily been nothing. May have wrenched his wrist or forearm with the grip.

Wouldn't you motion to the dugout if you thought it was bad? This is just the Nats being overly cautious.

Won't see him versus the Cards though. Good attendance anyway versus them.

http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I was looking forward to a Strasburg/Pujols matchup. Still am, if it doesn't happen this week.

I was at spring training and Pujols never made the trip when the Cardinals came to Viera to play the Nationals. I don't think Albert batted against Stephen in their Florida park either.

Posted by: greggwiggins | August 21, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

God, the Nats better get a couple more runs to clinch this one...Phils are notorious for coming back at home...

Posted by: CJArlington | August 21, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Projected first start for J-Zim?

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Projected first start for J-Zim?

Posted by: thegraneys | August 21, 2010 9:09 PM

Never know, could be Friday now...

Posted by: Kev29 | August 21, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Web gem for Roger! That was awesome, especially in the Phillies park!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 21, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

LOL! Butt heinous gremlins would be a good name for a garage band.

Speaking of the Phans, I liked when Nyjer deked them at the end of the game, pretending he was going to toss the ball to them, then holding on to it. Well played, TP. ;-)

Hope that the SS injury isn't too serious. Initial reports were of a flexor tendon strain. I think they're extra cautious with him, as they should be. I'd not be surprised if he were shut down for the season no matter what the results of tomorrow's MRI indicate (and I'm kinda glad that realgm isn't a real gm ;-)).

----

What a convention of butt heinous gremlins.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 21, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

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