Originally written on Burning River Baseball  |  Last updated 11/16/14
The Indians finally won a series in Texas and will move on to face the Washington Nationals, the last team in their difficult stretch of nine straight series against teams above .500. During the stretch the Indians went 6-16 including two sweeps by Detroit, one by the Yankees and one by Cincinnati. The series against the Nationals will be a rarity for the Tribe. They haven't  played against Washington since 2010 and before that, 2007 and each was just a three game series. With the new 15 team alignment, they will almost certainly start playing each other more often. The Nationals were expected to be not just the best team in the NL East going this year, but the top team in the entire National League. Instead, they have had trouble scoring (rank second to last in runs scored in all of baseball) and currently rank six games behind the Atlanta Braves who have used a revitalized Uptony offense to rank number one in home runs in all of baseball. Game 1: Friday, June 14th 7:05 PM EDT Gio Gonzalez, RHP, 3-3, 3.59 ERA vs Justin Masterson, RHP, 8-5, 3.68 ERA The Indians ace has struggled in his last two times out and three of his last four, going from 7-2 to 8-5 over that stretch. He has still been able to pitch deep into games, but allowed 16 runs in 19 innings against Detroit, New York and Boston. Playing against the weak Washington offense may be the one thing that gets him back on track. The Indians are familiar with Gonzalez from his time with the Oakland A's and the young pitcher is hitting his peak now with the Nationals. Gonzalez has pitched well for the Nats this year (like most of their staff), allowing more than four runs just four times this season. In fact, his two worst starts came against the tough Braves offense that leads their division. The Indians players do have some experience against Gonzalez from his time in the AL, with Ryan Raburn especially having good numbers, so expect him to start in right field in lieu of Drew Stubbs. Game 2: Saturday, June 15th 7:15 PM EDT Fox Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, 9-3, 2.00 ERA vs Scott Kazmir, LHP, 3-4, 5.33 ERA In thirteen starts, Zimmerman has allowed just 21 runs. This is made even more impressive when you notice that he allowed seven of those in a single bad game against Baltimore. Outside of this one start he has an even more impressive ERA of 1.42 and has not given up more than three runs in any one game. This is just about as bad a pitching match-up as the Indians can get, as Kazmir is starting for the Tribe and has allowed four or more runs in half of his starts. Of course, anything can happen in baseball, but this would be the game to want a three hour rain delay during the second inning in. Game 3: Sunday, June 16th 1:05 PM EDT Stephen Strasburg, RHP, 3-5, 2.54 ERA vs Corey Kluber, 4-4, 4.08 ERA The Indians have faced the Nationals phenom just once before, in 2010 before he missed an entire season due to Tommy John surgery. He is now on the disabled list for the fourth time in his career with a strained lat, but is expected to be activated in time for the series finale in Cleveland. He last pitched on May 31st when he was pulled in the second inning due to injury. This broke a streak spanning all season of lasting at least five innings in each game. He has a current streak of five games allowing a single run or less. Overall this year he has blanked opponents three times, but hasn't pitched a complete game shut out. In fact, he has only pitched into the eighth inning twice as the Nationals are being very careful with the fragile pitcher they believe to be the future of their franchise. Kluber has been a surprise this season and over his last six starts, has become the Indians third most dependable pitcher (after Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez). In his last outing he struck out just three, but held the AL West leading Rangers to just a single run in eight innings. Two games before that, he struck out 10 Red Sox and held them to a single run as well, but was unable to get out of the seventh. Kluber is exactly the starter the Indians want going against Strasburg as he can try to keep things close until it becomes a battle of the bullpens.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Niners OT Anthony Davis takes shot at offensive coordinator

Report: Josh Smith expected to sign with Rockets

Cullen Jenkins unhappy over his roughing the passer fine

Bochy: Peavy trade was best in-season move of 2014

Report: Anderson Varejao out for season with torn Achilles

Kevin Nash arrested after alleged fight with son

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

Mike Yeo slams Wild for not having 'winner's attitude'

Michigan St. QB, Ohio State TE have awkward Twitter exchange

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each NFL Week 17 game

The 40 greatest Christmas-related names in sports

NBA teams rooting for others to win

WATCH: Vlade drains half-court shot, wins $90K for charity

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Ibaka, Aldridge ejected for scuffle

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Nick Young on Kobe-less win: He needs to pass

NFC playoff picture, Week 17: Division showdowns

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.