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Nationals' lineup vs Reds + Dusty Baker on Stephen Strasburg returning from DL , Joe Ross's velocity

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Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker sort-of announced that Stephen Strasburg would return from the DL this afternoon to face the Cincinnati Reds. It will still apparently be a game-time decision, however.

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As of around 4:30-5:00 on Saturday, when Washington Nationals' manager Dusty Baker talked to reporters before last night's matchup with the Reds, there was no decision to share on which pitcher would face Cincinnati in today's series finale.

"It might be a game-time decision," Baker told reporters, including CSN Mid-Atlantic writer Chase Hughes.

"Sometimes you've gotta go out there and warm up to see if you are indeed 100 percent. It's not up to me. It's up to how Stras feels. Right now he's feeling pretty good." -Dusty Baker on Strasburg before Saturday's game

"Sometimes you've gotta go out there and warm up to see if you are indeed 100 percent. It's not up to me. It's up to how Stras feels. Right now he's feeling pretty good."

That was all the information he had at that point, however.

"I'm sorry I don't have any more to tell you. That's just how it is," Baker said. "Let's change the subject because I don't have anything else to tell you."

By the time the game was over, Baker seemed a little more confident that Strasburg would return from the DL, after an upper back strain led to a Disabled List stint, retroactive to June 16th.

Baker announced, sort of, that Strasburg would return as he talked about the state of the bullpen after back-to-back extra inning games.

"We had a couple of guys picked us up tonight. [Felipe] Rivero picked us up big time, innings-wise. We’re still in pretty good shape. They are predominantly right-handed. We've got a strong [Yusmeiro] Petit tomorrow. We didn’t have [Shawn] Kelley today, that’s why we didn’t use Kelley."

"We’re getting one of our main men Stras back tomorrow," Baker added. "He can put us back in sync for the remainder of first half."

The Nationals leaned on their bullpen again in the third game of four with the Reds after Joe Ross struggled on the mound for a second straight start and saw his velocity dip over the course of his outing.

"We’re getting one of our main men Stras back tomorrow. He can put us back in sync for the remainder of first half." -Dusty Baker on Strasburg returning after last night's game

"They were hitting Joe pretty good," Baker told reporters.

"The ball was up and then we went to get him cause we noticed -- the one good thing about the radar gun is that you can see when a guy's velocity has gone down."

Asked if they were concerned about the velo dip from Ross, Baker said, "No, I mean, not right now."

"We're looking into it, into some things. We were limiting his innings, if you hadn't noticed. We'd skipped him and then we usually take him out in the sixth and seventh inning, even though he would cry for some more. We were trying to limit his workload."

As for the fact that Ross was getting hit hard early on before the velocity dropped, Baker said he and Max Scherzer were talking about what might be wrong in the dugout.

"Myself and [Scherzer] were talking about it on the bench because he’s had a little trouble in the first inning and trying to figure out why and trying to figure out: Do you change a guy’s warm up-regiment, or is it something mental?

"Is he coming out too strong? The second time in a row his balls are about belt-high, and that’s his slider and his sinker.

"That’s a formula for getting hit hard when the ball is about belt-high, because you don’t have to alter your swing to hit it. We will look into it more tomorrow."

MASN's Dan Kolko reported this morning that the Nationals won't make an official announcement on Strasburg's return until after he warms up this afternoon and they're sure he's good to go.

Will Lucas Giolito return to the minors (to Triple-A where he was reportedly headed before he was called up?) if/when Strasburg's return is official? Will the Nationals give Ross a break until they figure out what's up with the velocity dip?

Here's the lineup for this afternoon's series finale with the Reds: