Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals at Padres (5/14-5/17)

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Apr 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne (40) pitches during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.20) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 5.13) – 10:10 PM ET, MASN2

It’s been a rough season for Despaigne. He has made seven appearances, with three of those coming as a starter. However, as a member of the rotation, the 28-year old right hander from Cuba has a 5.38 ERA in three starts. In his last outing against the Diamondbacks on May 7, he went five innings, gave up eight runs on ten hits, struck out one, and walked one.

One of the things Despaigne has done well as a starter is that he can get the groundball outs. In those three starts, he has ten or more groundball outs. He throws mainly four pitches, with an occasional slider. His fastball averages at a little over 90 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), but he likes to mix in a cutter, curveball, changeup. It will be interesting to see how the Nationals handle Despaigne when you consider that nobody on the team has faced the second year pitcher.

Last time out, against the Braves, Jordan Zimmermann had a tough time against the bottom of the Braves order. The Nats gave him an early 3-0 lead, but he gave up two runs in the second, a run in the third, and two hits to the pitcher.

That being said, you have to give Zimmermann credit as he shut out Atlanta for the final three innings. In six innings, he gave up those three runs on eight hits, struck out two, and walked three. He has given up no more than three runs in six of his seven starts, but the nine walks this season are a little bit of a concern for someone who usually has great control.

The problem for Zimmermann going into this one are two of the key hitters in the Padres lineup have great success against him. Matt Kemp is 6-for-14 with two home runs and seven RBI’s while Justin Upton is 6-for-17 with a home run and two RBI’s.

Advantage: Due to the lack of familiarity for the Nats hitters against Despaigne, you have to think it will take time for them to adjust and figure out his tendencies. That doesn’t bode well for Washington if San Diego can get to Zimmermann early. I like the Padres to take game number two.

Next: Saturday's Matchup