The last time Stephen Strasburg pitched at Nationals Park, he struck out 14 batters in front of a sold-out crowd, plugging the ballpark into his own metaphorical power pack and sending 40,000 fans home with everything from chills to smiles.
What can he do for an encore? How about stop another losing streak?
The Nationals are quickly falling into the bad habit of starting losing streaks and implicitly hoping Strasburg will bail them out. He's done it twice already, halting a pair of two-game skids, but tonight, he'll try to end a three-game losing streak, and he'll have to do it against a Chicago White Sox team that's better than either of the opponents Strasburg has faced so far.
The White Sox have a veteran lineup that's so far been able to rack up home runs (74, good for fourth in the American League) while avoiding strikeouts (they have the fewest in the AL). Despite all that, they're 10th in the American League in runs, playing all-or-nothing ball as the White Sox often do, but nonetheless, they'll offer Strasburg a better test than the Pirates or Indians did.
And if he loses? The Nationals will have a four-game skid to end, and two more games against the White Sox where Strasburg isn't pitching. It's an unhealthy cycle to begin, but for now, the Nationals need Strasburg to keep being their ace.