April 21, 2016

No one questions Stephen Strasburg's ability to dominate when he's healthy. Of course, he hasn't always been 100 percent.

Strasburg hasn't shown any signs of problems so far, and another solid outing Sunday could help the Washington Nationals sweep this three-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins and set a record for the best start in franchise history.

Six disabled list stints - two of which came last year - have interrupted the right-hander's career, but he's been fantastic since his latest return and carried it over into 2016.

Strasburg (3-0, 1.25 ERA) struck out 10 and scattered three hits over eight innings of a 7-0 win over Miami on Tuesday. The Nationals (13-4) have won his last seven starts, with Strasburg posting a 0.89 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 50 2-3 innings during that span.

"He's coming into his own. It's incredible," said Bryce Harper, who hit a grand slam to back Strasburg. "You see what he did in college. He had so much pressure going through the minors, coming up and everything, got hurt, trying to get back into it with his ankle and things like that. Then, the second half last year was absolutely ridiculous. Now, he's putting up video game numbers again."

Strasburg was limited to 23 starts last year and finished with a 3.46 ERA, the highest of his career. He tried to put that out of his mind during the spring.

"I don't really try and worry about injuries and everything like that," Strasburg said. "Last year, it is what it is, but I learned a lot from it, so I'm just trying to build off of each outing."

Strasburg has helped Washington tie the 1981 Montreal Expos and 2012 Nationals for the best start in franchise history. Nationals pitching struck out 18 in Saturday's 2-0 win over the Twins (5-13), tying the team mark for the most in a nine-inning game set in 1980.

Harper doubled twice after going 3 for 18 over his previous five.

Minnesota has dropped four of five since a four-game winning streak and managed only two hits Saturday. It has struck out at least 10 times in six games this season and was just one short of tying the franchise record.

"That's a big number, no matter who's out there (pitching)," manager Paul Molitor said.

Molitor made a lineup change Saturday, putting right fielder Miguel Sano at third base for the first time in 2016. He should be back in the outfield for this one with Eduardo Nunez playing third.

Byung Ho Park is expected to play first in place of Joe Mauer.

Tyler Duffey will get the ball for his season debut after Ervin Santana was scratched with back soreness. Santana said he felt pain when he bent over to pick up a ball during batting practice Friday, but he's expected to make his next start and won't go on the disabled list.

Duffey went 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie last season. He was given an opportunity to make the rotation out of camp, but a poor spring led to him starting the season in Triple-A.

The right-hander has a 1.72 ERA in three starts for Rochester and likely will be sent back down after the game.

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