Washington Nationals Series Preview: Cardinals-Nationals (4/21-4/23)

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Apr 18, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals center fielder

Jon Jay

(19) celebrates with catcher

Yadier Molina

(4) after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won the game 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

After taking three out of four from the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, the Washington Nationals (6-7) get set to take on a team that has dominated them in the last couple of seasons. While this series doesn’t have pennant race implications now in late April, but this series between the St. Louis Cardinals (8-3) and Nationals could be a matchup that takes place in October. In the last two seasons, St. Louis is 11-2 against the Nats, including 6-0 in 2013.

Before the season began, on the Yanks Go Yard Radio Show (which I host), I made my MLB season predictions. Before I knew how great the Cardinals are against the Nats, I picked St. Louis to beat Washington in the NLCS and ultimately, win the World Series.

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So far, the Cardinals have not done much to make me think otherwise. They have won five straight games and are coming off a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. One of the trades they made this winter was acquiring right fielder Jason Heyward from the Braves for starting pitcher Shelby Miller. So far, Heyward is hitting .213 with one home run and three RBI’s.

There are two hitters right now that are off to great starts for Mike Matheny’s club. Third baseman Matt Carpenter is hitting .400 with two home runs and ten RBI’s, has a .449 on-base percentage, and has recorded two hits in each of his last seven games. Another player that is doing well is left fielder Matt Holliday. He doesn’t have a home run, but he is hitting .361 with six RBI’s and is on a 11-game hitting streak.

The strength of this Cardinals team is their starting pitching. While the Nationals won’t have to see Adam Wainwright in this series, it doesn’t get much easier. The starter’s ERA for St. Louis is 1.92, which is the best in baseball.

Their bullpen ERA of 1.18 is the best in the National League and second behind the vaunted Royals’ bullpen (0.73). While closer Trevor Rosenthal has walked four batters in five games, but he has converted all four of his save chances and has a 1.59 ERA to go with eight strikeouts.

So, as we get you set for this series, let’s breakdown the three pitching matchups: