Marquee pitching matchup tonight at Dodger Stadium

Some thoughts before I board my flight to Los Angeles, where the Nationals and Dodgers open a three-game series late tonight...

* If you like marquee pitching matchups, they don't get a whole lot better than tonight's showdown at Dodger Stadium.

Yes, it's Stephen Strasburg vs. Clayton Kershaw. How good are these two guys? Let us count the ways.

Strasburg is 10-0 this season, Kershaw is 10-1.

Strasburg has 118 strikeouts and only 24 walks this season. Kershaw has 133 strikeouts and - good lord! - only seven walks this season.

But it's not just what they've done this year. Go back to last June, when Strasburg returned from his nagging neck injury. Since then, he's 18-2 with a 2.37 ERA, while Kershaw is 21-3 with a 1.38 ERA. Only Jake Arrieta (1.25) has a lower ERA, and only Arrieta (26) and Madison Bumgarner (24) have more wins.

Stephen Strasburg gray pitching.jpg

Tonight's game could be something special. Too bad it starts at 10:10 p.m. EDT.

* Michael A. Taylor is playing his way back into the Nationals lineup.

With a 4-for-4, two-homer performance yesterday, Taylor continued his recent hot streak with some emphasis. He's now hitting .390 (16-for-41) with a 1.053 OPS this month. He has successfully recorded a hit in the last 17 games he has started.

Dusty Baker realizes it, and he's positioning Taylor to get more regular playing time. Ben Revere didn't need any rest yesterday, but Baker decided to start Taylor in center field anyway, less a reflection of Revere's performance than of Taylor's recent resurgence.

Baker also told reporters afterward he plans to start Taylor again tonight, taking advantage of the lefty-righty matchup. And with two more southpaws scheduled to start for the Dodgers in this series (Scott Kazmir on Tuesday, Julio Urias on Wednesday), there's a reasonable chance Taylor will get at least one more start himself.

* We'll close with a question for all of you to debate while I'm in the air for the next 5 1/2 hours: If the Nationals are holding a one-run lead after the seventh inning tonight, and Strasburg's pitch count is 105, who are you sending to the mound to pitch the eighth? And then, if the score holds, the ninth?

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