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

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Apr 16, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher

Doug Fister

(58) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday: Doug Fister (1-0, 0.69) vs. John Lackey (1-0, 2.77) – 7:05 PM ET, MASN + ESPN

So far this season, Doug Fister has continually been able to speed up the game and dominate hitters. He has pitched into the seventh inning in both of his outings, but both have also come against the Phillies, which have a mediocre lineup at best. In 12.1 innings, he has given up three runs (one earned run), struck out five and walked five.

Last time out, Fister did not give up an earned run, but left a lot of pitches up in the zone. He had 15 flyball outs to just four groundball outs. That and the four walks he had are not the way Fister wants to operate. Pitch f/x says that Fister has used his sinker over 2/3 of the time this season (68%)

The 31-year old right hander only has one career start vs. St. Louis, which came last season. On June 15, at Busch Stadium, he took the loss in a game in which he gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings. He gave up two homers in that start, one to Matt Adams and one to Holliday.

Now to John Lackey. The 36-year old veteran had a rough outing in his first start against the Reds when he gave up four runs on four hits over six innings with two walks and one strikeout. However, the right-hander shut out the Brewers in his last start as he gave up five hits over seven innings, struck out eight, and walked one.

This is what Mike Matheny had to say about his rotation, but in particular, players like Wainwright and Lackey, who are the two older veterans in the rotation.

"“Waino’s doing a great job leading, as well as John Lackey. Both of them are going about it the right way, getting their work and trying to get better. It’s making a difference.” (h/t The Sporting News)"

Lackey is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA against Washington in two starts, but he hasn’t faced the Nats since 2008. Jayson Werth has a home run off Lackey, but Yunel Escobar is also 9-for-24 (.375) with one double and two walks.

Prediction: Lackey is going to bring his bulldog attitude to the mound and keep this one close, but I like Doug Fister in this one. It will be a tough challenge, but if Fister can keep his sinker down in the zone, he is going to be effective against this St. Louis lineup. Otherwise, he might give up another couple of home runs. Nationals win 7-4.