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WSH@NYM: Strasburg stifles the Mets with nine K's

There has been a lot of debate recently about the Nationals shutting Stephen Strasburg down come September with a need to limit his innings total for the season. With the way Strasburg has been pitching lately, Washington might get a few extra starts from the right-hander for reasons they weren't hoping for when his innings limit was announced.

Strasburg hasn't lasted past the sixth inning since June 20 and he has only thrown 20 1/3 innings in his last four starts. After winning six starts in a row from May 20 to June 20, the Nationals' young pitcher is 1-3.

He will look to turn things around and pitch like he was earlier in the season, when the Nationals take on the Mets with hopes of extending their lead in the National League East even more on Wednesday afternoon.

"He felt like he was missing, but I felt like he just wasn't going after them; he was wasting a lot of pitches," Washington manager Davey Johnson said after Strasburg's last start, last Friday against Atlanta. "He really doesn't know who he is at times. He doesn't trust his stuff."

Strasburg will be opposed by Jeremy Hefner, in the Mets' rotation due to Johan Santana being placed on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain.

This will be Hefner's fourth start of the season and first since June 6 when he took on the Nationals. The righty took the loss in that start, allowing four runs -- three earned -- in six innings. Hefner pitched two innings out of the bullpen on Saturday and threw 47 pitches.

Mets: New York exploring trade scenarios
General manager Sandy Alderson said the slumping Mets are looking into different trade options as the team is quickly losing ground in the National League East.

He said the team isn't necessarily in sell mode right now, but he said the team isn't in the same position it was not too long ago.

"You've got to be realistic and take into account where you are from day to day," he said. "We'll see whether it's important for us to invest more heavily in 2012. I don't think we want to invest too heavily in '13 and '14 to the significant detriment of 2012."

The team is in desperate need of pitching help with the bullpen overworked and more members of the starting rotation hurt than healthy.

Nationals: Johnson figuring out best use of Storen
After spending the first half of the season recovering from an elbow injury, reliever Drew Storen is back with the Nationals. Johnson is working on figuring out where the club's closer from one year ago best fits in the bullpen. Storen saved 43 games for the Nationals last season, but Tyler Clippard has taken over the closer's role.

When approached by Johnson, the reliever told him it will take a few more outings to know for sure where he feels most comfortable pitching. Storen returned from injury on July 19, and Johnson said he plans to use the righty on Wednesday, and then try to get him in every other day.

"I'm just looking for short outings where he can get hot and come in," Johnson said.

Worth noting
• Hefner has a 10.38 ERA in July through three relief appearances. He gave up two runs to the Dodgers on July 21 and three runs to the Phillies on July 4.

• In 11 innings pitched against the Mets in his career, Strasburg has 14 strikeouts while posting a 1.64 ERA. He is 1-0 against New York.

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