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When Will Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg Make Next Start?

Brad Mills – USA Today Sports

The Washington Nationals announced last night that star pitcher Stephen Strasburg would miss tonight’s start at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins. It is expected that Gio Gonzalez will take his place in the rotation, and Strasburg will be ready to go on Saturday.

The news about Strasburg was upsetting to the team as they are pushing hard to make a final run at the playoffs, with the games coming off the 2013 regular schedule far too quickly for Washington’s quest. Washington needs to continue pile up the wins, and they need someone ahead of them to take a drastic dive.

The Nationals are 5.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League, trailing the Cincinnati Reds. A Nationals win tonight over Miami could cut the Reds lead down to five games with only 10 games to play after tonight. It’s a daunting task for the Nationals, but there could be some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Reds open a big three-game road series Friday night at PNC Park in the Steel City as they face the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the moment, the Bucs are doing their own impression of the Texas Rangers‘ free fall. Pittsburgh has lost their last three games in a row, and they will face the Reds a total of six times before the regular season ends next Sunday.

In some regards, the Nationals might start rooting for the Reds, who seem to be playing much better baseball than Pittsburgh. The Nationals might just be hoping that it is the Reds that get hot and sweep six games from a Pirates team that has some experience at folding. It would be a real shame if Pittsburgh did not make the playoffs, but it would be a better story to Washington if the Nationals crashed the party.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc or join his circle at Google +