Strasburg back for big series against the Fish

It's a big game tonight for the Nationals and their young star Stephen Strasburg as he is scheduled to make his first start since July 27 when he was scratched prior to a game against the Atlanta Braves.

If he is able to return from the shoulder inflammation, it will be Strasburg's first game since July 21 at Cincinnati. Strasburg has a 5-2 record with a 2.32 ERA, the best among NL rookie starters.

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Anibal Sanchez gets the nod for the Fish, who arrive six games in front of the Nats in the NL East. The Nats are 29-23 at home and the Marlins 25-26 on the road.

The Nationals need to pick up where they left off at home, after going 4-2 against the Braves and Phillies last week. Not only is it a home series, but it's against another East division opponent in the Marlins, and it's another chance to climb closer to fourth place.

Good news for Nats fans traveling to the Park this week is that the unfortunate injury to Strasburg means they have a good chance of seeing him pitch tonight and Sunday against the Diamondbacks.

Strasburg shutout the Marlins over six innings in his first start after the All-Star break on July 16 in Miami. It is the only start this year that Strasburg has allowed no earned runs. He has an amazing 75 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

Sanchez has a fastball that can climb between 91 and 97 miles per hour, a quality curveball, and good downward movement on his changeup. Anibal also has a cutter that looks like a slider and runs away from right-handed hitters and on the hands of left-handed hitters.

Scott Olsen is scheduled to go tomorrow night against Chris Volstad. John Lannan has a good chance to pitch on Thursday versus Ricky Nolasco. Craig Stammen is now coming out of the bullpen.

The Nats will miss Josh Johnson for the first time this season. It seems like the first time they have missed Johnson in his career. They won't actually miss him that much though, will they? - Johnson is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA versus the Nats in 2010. He was 2-0 with a more average 3.82 ERA in six starts against the Nats in '09, but here is the big stat: Johnson is 7-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 starts (14 games) in his career against Washington.

The Nationals' next win will be there 50th of the season. In 2009, the Nats did not win their 50th game until September 13, a 7-2 victory against these very same Marlins in Florida.

The Nationals have also been a prolific home run hitting team the last seven games, smacking 15 home runs against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers.

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