The Nationals entered their series with the Cardinals Friday night as the hottest team in baseball, having won 11 of 13 games and hoping to continue their run of success. And while St. Louis cooled them off a bit with a 1-0 win in the opener, Washington is scheduled to send its ace to the mound in an attempt to right the ship on Saturday.
Saturday's pitching matchup at Busch Stadium will feature two of the top 20 picks in the 2009 First-Year Players Draft, as right-handers Strasburg (No. 1 overall) and Shelby Miller (No. 19 overall) are slated to square off.
Strasburg has allowed only three earned runs in 19 innings pitched (1.42 ERA) over his last three starts -- all wins -- striking out 27 over that span. Meanwhile, Miller twirled a shutout against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday, yielding three hits while walking one and fanning five.
Nationals manager Matt Williams said the key to success for Strasburg has been his command.
"As far as Stephen's concerned, I think his fastball's command has been better," Williams said. "I think he has been able to throw the breaking ball early in the count for strikes."
Strasburg is looking for his first career win over St. Louis, despite a 2.37 ERA in three starts against the Cards.
Before Miller's gem on Saturday, the right-hander had a string of rough outings, going 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA in his three previous starts.
"My fastball location these past two games, I feel like was a lot better," Miller said after the shutout of Toronto. "I just feel like I've thrown more strikes. We went back and looked at what I was doing early in the year last year. I'm trying to repeat my mechanics as much as possible. I'm in a groove where that feels good."
The Cards hope that groove continues on Saturday, as Miller searches for his eighth win of the season.
Nationals: Cedeno back in the 'pen
With the imminent return to the rotation of left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who went on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation on May 18, the Nationals optioned right-handed starter Blake Treinen to Triple-A Syracuse and recalled left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno. Treinen had been starting in Gonzalez's place. Cedeno will rejoin Washington's bullpen after making 13 appearances at Syracuse, going 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.
Cardinals: Adams activated
First baseman Matt Adams was activated on Friday after missing 13 games because of a strained left calf and went 2-for-3 with a homer. Adams is hitting .330 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs in 53 games this season.
The corresponding roster move for St. Louis was the optioning of Oscar Taveras back to Triple-A Memphis. Taveras, No. 2 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, hit .189 (7-for-37) in 11 games for the Cardinals.
"The way everybody should think about it is simply that we need Oscar to be playing every day," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "If we weren't going to be able to get him everyday at-bats here, he's better off doing it in Memphis. I do think that his time up here was valuable, I think he learned a lot. It wouldn't surprise me if at some point he was back here with the club."
• Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday is 4-for-6 with a double in his career against Strasburg. Second baseman Mark Ellis has also had success against the hard-throwing right-hander, going 3-for-5 against him.
• With their 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on Friday night, the Nationals are 2-16 all-time at the current Busch Stadium.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.