What to Watch for: 7.19.13

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Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47) vs. Washington Nationals (48-47)

RHP Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.76) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-7, 2.99)

The Nationals look to get off on the right foot when they kick off the season’s second half with a critical 11-game homestand, which includes a three-game set against the Dodgers that starts tonight. Stephen Strasburg, who is third in the National League with a 1.65 ERA at home, will face Opening Day opponent Ricky Nolasco (then of the Marlins). Strasburg has allowed one earned run or less in six of nine starts in The District, including four starts allowing no earned runs.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Harper LF

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Tracy 1B

8. Ramos C

9. Strasburg RHP

REST FOR THE WEARY

The Nationals closed the season’s first half by playing the maximum of 20 games in 20 days. Washington went 11-9 (.550) in that span and outscored their 6 opponents by 16 runs (94-78). At 48-47 (.505), the Nationals entered the All-Star break with a winning record for the second consecutive season. Washington has completed the season’s first half at .500 or better each of the last 3 seasons (49-34 in ‘12, 46-46 in ‘11).

HOME COOKIN’

At 27-18 (.600), Washington is one of five National League squads playing .600 baseball or better at home this season. The Nationals are joined on this Senior Circuit short list by the Braves (31-15, .674), Reds (30-16, .652), Pirates (32-18, .640) and Cardinals (27-16, .628).

AGAINST ALL ODDS

The Nationals (48-47, -14) and Yankees (51-44, -2) are the only two Major League teams to sport winning records despite carrying a negative run differential for the season.

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