Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals vs. Braves (5/8-5/10)

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May 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws to the Miami Marlins during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday: Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.15 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (1-2, 4.32 ERA), 1:35 pm EST, broadcast on MASN

For the finale, the Nats start Jordan Zimmermann who sports a 4.15 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. In Zimmermann’s last start against the Braves, Jordan rode the wave of the Nats hot bats and benefited from the second straight 13 run game from the Nats offense. Zimmermann was not perfect, but pitched well with the lead, going seven innings and giving up four runs on eight hits. Jordan’s ERA is a bit high so far this year due to his disastrous start in Boston, where he gave up seven earned runs in only 2.1 innings pitched, In his other five starts, Zimmermann has only given up a max of four runs.

Zimmermann’s had a bit of bad luck so far this year as evident by his .321 BABIP and that, coupled with a lower than average strikeout rate compared to his career stats, has led to more base runners and more runs.

Again, Freddie Freeman continues to be a Nats killer. In 22 at bats against Zimmermann, he has slashed .364/.440/.455. Zimmermann faces the same challenge as Fister in terms of working around the two powerful lefties in the Braves line-up. How Zimmermann handles Freeman will likely determine the outcome of this game. 

The Braves finish the series with Alex Wood who posts a 4.32 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Wood was on the other end of the second 13 run output in as many nights against the Nats, giving up five earned runs on six hits in five innings of work. Wood has struggled a bit this season as his strikeout rate has dropped from 24.5% last season to 16.4% this year and he is giving up a few more walks as well.

Bryce Harper has also fared well against Alex Wood. In 11 at-bats, he has five hits with a couple doubles. The Nats as a team did not do well against Wood last year. In four starts, Wood went 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA, only giving up 20 hits in 25.1 innings pitched. Last year’s stats don’t seem to matter to Alex Wood as he has not started the year well. He needs to miss a few more bats to keep his production up to the level it was last season. If he doesn’t, that could benefit the Nats in this game. 

This matchup is a bit more clear-cut as Jordan Zimmermann has the advantage. Zimmermann is an overall better pitcher and seems to have had a bit of bad luck so far this season. Although his strikeout rate is down a bit this year, Zimmermann should be able to grind his way through this start and put the Nats in a good position to win. Alex Wood may come out firing and have a great start, but he seems to be having a down year and Bryce may have his number, which is good news considering how hot Harper is right now. This might not be much of a game as the Nats look to close out the series with a win against the Braves.

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