Sep 27, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
PHOENIX — And so we’ve reached the final weekend of the season, with the Nationals wrapping things up out west in a three-game series against a Diamondbacks club that also stayed alive in the playoff race deep into September but now is playing out the string.
Here are a few news items, notes and other thoughts heading into the weekend…
— Stephen Strasburg makes his final start of the season tonight, after which we’ll all try to make sense of a 2013 campaign that had plenty of highs and lows for the 25-year-old. Strasburg was absolutely dominant at times this season, taking a major step forward in reaching the ninth inning twice and racking up a career-high 176 innings (plus, obviously, however many he throws tonight). But he also was downright frustrating at other times, whether melting down in an early season start after Ryan Zimmerman committed an error at third base or failing to reach the third inning four separate times due to either injury, ejection, a long rain delay or poor performance. Strasburg is the first to admit there’s still room for improvement in 2014, but overall this season should be deemed a success for him. He made more starts and pitched more innings than in any previous time in his career while also putting fewer runners on base. That has to count for something.
— Strasburg is one of several Nationals who have a chance to reach some statistical milestones this weekend. If he somehow records 13 strikeouts against the Diamondbacks, Strasburg will reach 200 for the first time in his career. Others …
— Gio Gonzalez, expected to start Sunday’s finale, needs only eight more strikeouts to reach 200 for the second straight year.
— Jayson Werth has slumped a bit over the last couple of weeks following a torrid summer, but he has a chance to finish with an OPS of at least .922, which would establish a new career-high.
— Ian Desmond last week became only the seventh shortstop in history with multiple 20-20 seasons, and with two more doubles he would join an even more-exclusive club. Only two other players this season have a chance to hit 20 homers, steal 20 bases and notch 40 doubles: Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. Those might be the respective league MVPs, and Desmond could stack right up with each.
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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