By Sam Bush

This afternoon’s Phils-Nationals game at 4 pm is a classic match-up.

A pair of All-Stars will face off in the second of a three-game series between two of the National League’s hottest teams.

Cole Hamels (above), who has been one of baseball’s best pitchers over the past three weeks, will try cooling off the Nats, who have won six straight games and 18 of their last 22.

The Phillies, who will face Stephen Strasburg, are winners of seven of their last 10, despite losing their last two, and have jumped the Marlins for fourth place in the NL East.

Hamels rolls into Washington a winner of his last three starts. Since allowing six runs in six innings against the Marlins on May 2, the ace has recorded three straight starts of at least seven innings and no more than two runs allowed. During that stretch, his ERA has dropped from 4.14 to 3.24. He’s thrown against the Nationals twice this season and is 0-1. He allowed six runs over 13 innings in those two starts, and the Nationals hit .152 against him.

Strasburg is 5-1 in his career against Philly with a 2.00 ERA, which is the lowest versus any opponent against whom he has made at least 10 starts. His 8.09 strikeouts-to-walks ratio against the Phillies is his best against any NL East opponent, and the Phils have hit .204 against him. For context, the former No. 1 overall draft pick is striking out 3.5 batters for every walk in 2015, and all opponents are hitting .316 against him.

Chase Utley held the worst batting average in the major leagues through the first 32 games of the season (.118), but the six-time All-Star has caught fire over the past week. Utley is hitting .458 over his last 24 at-bats with at least one extra-base hit in six of the past seven games. Utley is 4-for-25 with six strikeouts in his career against Strasburg.


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