Two right-handers who have had impressive starts to the 2014 campaign will take the hill in the nation's capital on Monday night as the Reds and Nationals open a three-game series at Nationals Park.
Cincinnati's Mike Leake has not had much run support, which has led to his 2-3 record, but he has posted a 3.09 ERA in his first eight outings. He'll be opposed by Washington ace Stephen Strasburg, who has a 3.48 ERA through his first nine starts and is tied for fifth in the Majors with 70 strikeouts.
Reds manager Bryan Price said when it's all said and done, it's the quality innings that matter more than the wins for Leake.
"He doesn't have anything to show for it but the innings," Price said. "That to me says more than anything. When you look at the end of the season -- we're going to want to win every game that he throws when he gives us seven or eight quality innings like he has.
"At the end of the season, we'll look and if he can maintain this type of consistency, you'll look at a spectacular season of well over 200 innings, but giving us a chance to win on a regular basis is what makes me happy."
Strasburg had issues with seeing catcher Wilson Ramos' signs in his last outing against the D-backs on Tuesday, when he gave up three runs on eight hits over seven innings. Ramos said that for Strasburg's next start, he will be wearing stickers on his fingers to be sure the right-hander can see the signals.
"It was hard for the pitchers to see the signs," Ramos said. "That's the reason I'll put the stickers on the fingers, so they can see the signs better."
Reds: Short-handed on the bench
• When the Reds activated left-hander Tony Cingrani from the disabled list for a start against the Phillies on Sunday, they optioned backup catcher Tucker Barnhart to Triple-A Louisville. But with Joey Votto out due to a strained quad, Price has limited bench options.
"I think we'll inevitably have to make a decision on what we're capable of doing and exactly how much time we feel, organizationally, Joey will need to be ready to help us again," Price said Sunday. "That time hasn't come yet."
In 10 games with Cincinnati, Barnhart hit .107 (3-for-28) with a home run.
Nationals: Clippard dealing
• Right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 outings, dropping his ERA to 1.86 for the season.
"I've felt good," Clippard said. "I've been able to have my fastball command. That's been the key for me, but the changeup has been there, too. When those things are going well right now, I can do what I want out there."
• Since Votto came out of the lineup due to a quad injury, Brayan Pena and Neftali Soto have combined to go 1-for-11.
• Brandon Phillips is a career .429 hitter (7-for-13) against Strasburg with a triple.
• Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth have enjoyed success against Leake. In 20 lifetime at-bats against the right-hander, Desmond has seven hits (.350), including a double and four RBIs. Werth is a career .412 hitter (7-for-17) against Leake, with a double and a home run.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.