WASHINGTON (AP) — Thanks to some superb pitching, the countdown is on to the Washington Nationals’ first World Series appearance in franchise history.

Up 2-0 on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series after near no-hitters from Aníbal Sánchez and Max Scherzer, the Nationals turn to historically strong playoff pitcher Stephen Strasburg in Game 3 Monday with the chance to take a stranglehold.

Strasburg takes a 1.32 career postseason ERA to the mound for the first Championship Series game in the nation’s capital. The big right-hander, making the organization’s much-criticized 2012 Strasburg Shutdown look better over time, is 2-0 in the playoffs this fall.

Cardinal’s manager Mike Shildt refused to reveal his Game 3 lineup until Monday. It’s possible he makes a tweak, but after analytics showed his hitters aren’t chasing the ball out of the strike zone at a higher rate, St. Louis is ready to stay the course without major changes.

Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead on the road in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win 88% of the time in MLB history. The first step toward bucking those odds for St. Louis is sending 23-year-old ace Jack Flaherty to the mound in Game 3, and there’s no shortage of belief in what he can do in what should be a raucous atmosphere.

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