Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals at Diamondbacks (5/11-5/13)

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May 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday: Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 3.62 ERA) v. Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.85 ERA), 3:40 pm EST, MASN and MLB Network

Gio Gonzalez has had a very solid beginning to his season for the Nationals. He won his last start against the Atlanta Braves, going seven innings and only giving up two runs. He only walked one batter and had eight strikeouts.

His fastball velocity is back to where it was before he had the problems with shoulder inflammation last season that sent him to the DL and affected his performance. Gio seems to have completely gotten over his shoulder problems.

As the only lefty in the Nats rotation, Gio may have trouble with the Arizona lineup, which is heavily right handed. This may be a game when right hander Aaron Hill may get a start at second base in place of the switch hitting Pennington.

Jeremy Hellickson, on the other hand, has not been solid for Arizona.  He had a rough season in 2013, going 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA.  He had to have elbow surgery at the beginning of the 2014 season and only pitched 13 games for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He was traded by Tampa Bay to Arizona in December.  He has continued to struggle since the Diamondbacks acquired him as his ERA currently sits at 5.85.

He has had one really good start this year. Back on April 19 against the Giants, he gave up one run over 6.1 innings, but San Francisco was struggling at that point in the season. Other than that, he has been giving up runs and not going deep in games too often.  He has only gone past six innings in a start twice.  In his last start, he managed 4.2 innings and gave up five runs in a no decision against the Padres.

Unless the Nationals have one of those games where they can’t hit at all and Hellickson, for one night, finds his form, I would have to give the Nationals the edge in this game.  However, if Gonzalez has trouble getting outs from the Arizona right handed heavy lineup, this game may be a high scoring affair.

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