What to Watch for: 9.21.13

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Miami Marlins (56-98) vs. Washington Nationals (83-71)

RHP Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.51) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96)

Jordan Zimmermann dominated Miami from start to finish Friday night, firing a two-hit, complete-game shutout in an 8-0 blanking of the Marlins. He carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings before allowing a single to Donovan Solano, brother of Nationals backstop Jhonatan, and struck out nine batters along the way.

In his dominant effort, Zimmermann became the first member of the Nationals franchise (2005-present) to record two shutouts in a single season, after posting a 1-0, one-hit shutout of the Reds on April 26. His two performances give the Nationals four complete-game shutouts this season – also a team record – including Stephen Strasburg (Aug. 11) and Gio Gonzalez (Sept. 9).

The win was Zimmermann’s 19th of the season, most in the National League, with one more opportunity to earn win No. 20 scheduled to come next week in St. Louis. Should he reach that figure, he would join Gonzalez as the only 20-game winners in team history and give D.C. its first back-to-back league wins leaders since Alvin “General” Crowder won 26 games in 1932 and 24 in 1933, leading the American League both times.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Jayson Werth RF
4. Bryce Harper LF
5. Ian Desmond SS
6. Adam LaRoche 1B
7. Wilson Ramos C
8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B
9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

THE CHASE TO 500 K
With 494 in the bag, Stephen Strasburg enters his assignment tonight just six strikeouts shy of reaching the 500-career strikeout threshold. Here’s a closer look at how Strasburg compares to the five fastest starting pitchers to reach 500 career strikeouts (since 1900, special thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau):

Pitcher, IP to 500 K
Kerry Wood, 404.2
Mark Prior, 421.2
Tim Lincecum, 438.0
Oliver Perez, 444.0
Hideo Nomo, 444.2

Stephen Strasburg: 494 strikeouts in 421.1 innings

STATUS CHECK
The Nationals reside in second place in the NL East, 8.0 games behind Atlanta with just eight games remaining in the regular season. For the Nationals to claim a share of the division title, they would have to go 8-0 and hope the Braves go 0-8 the rest of the way. In the Wild Card race, Washington trails Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by 5.0 games apiece, meaning either the Pirates or Reds would have to lose at least five of their remaining eight contests to open the door for a Nationals postseason berth.

40 DAYS, 40 NIGHTS
The Nationals are 29-11 in their past 40 games, the best record in the Major Leagues during that span. Including last night’s eight-run effort, they have scored four or more runs 27 times during that stretch, compiling a 25-2 record.

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