The Washington Nationals kick off the second half of their season on a 9 game road trip, starting tonight with a three game series against the Florida Marlins. Washington sits at 39-50 14 games out of first. The Marlins are 42-46 10.5 games out of first. The last few weeks Washington has been chasing Florida to climb out of the NL East cellar, but the last 4 games have not been good to the Nats, dropping 3 of their last 4.
The Nationals will kick off the second half tonight with new ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Strasburg, the phenom 2009 first overall pick, has been impressive in his seven starts, showing daunting stuff, but also finding at times a penchant to get himself in jams. On the season, Strasburg is 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA. In 42.2 total innings, Strasburg has racked up a whopping 61 strike outs, while allowing 32 hits and 11 walks. Strabsurg faces off tonight against Ricky Nolasco for the Marlins. Nolasco is 9-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts. He has 94 strikeouts.
The Nationals also enter the nine game road trip unsure whether power hitting first baseman Adam Dunn will return home with them in 11 days. With the MLB trade deadline approaching, if the Nats plan to trade Dunn and/or Josh Willingham, they will likely need to tip the hand soon.
The second half of the season will also feature continuing rehabs and returns of several pitchers. Jordan Zimmerman will continue to rehab as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last year. In three starts at Potomac, Zimmerman has tossed 9 shutout innings. Ross Detwiler is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and is making start in Harrisburg. The nationals are still awaiting the return of former Yankee starter and now Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. He was signed in the off-season to a two year deal and expected to be back for June. It’s July. Scott Olsen kicks off his rehab and potential return to the Nationals on Saturday with a start on Hagerstown. Finally, will we see the return of John Lannan?