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

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May 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer (3-3, 1.99) vs. Andrew Cashner (1-6, 3.07) – 8:40 PM ET, MASN2

If you look strictly at Andrew Cashner’s win-loss record, you would think that he is off to a horrible start. Partially, Cashner’s bad start is because San Diego doesn’t give him many runs. He is second in the National League in lowest run support. The 2.29 runs per game scored by San Diego is only higher than Cole Hamels.

However, one of the problems for the 28-year old righty is he gives up a lot of home runs. His eight homers given up are sixth in the NL and he has given up the long ball in each of his last four games. Even with the high home run total, he has 45 strikeouts and has given up two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts.

Last season, Cashner went 5-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 19 starts. Ryan Zimmerman does have a home run against him, but the best hitter against Cashner on the Nats is Denard Span. The center fielder/leadoff hitter is 4-for-13 with a double and three RBI’s.

Last time out, Max Scherzer was given a ton of run support, something he hasn’t seen much of this year. On Monday, the Nats gave him a 10-0 lead before he took the mound in the second inning. It allowed him to settle in and command the strike zone against a D’Backs lineup that scored 20 runs in the final two games of the series.

Scherzer, who has thrown seven innings or more in each of his last five starts, went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, struck out six, and walked one. Scherzer is fifth in the NL in ERA and is tied for third in the NL in strikeouts (55) behind Clayton Kershaw and James Shields.

If the Padres are going to have success against Scherzer, they have to get to him early and look to swing early in the count. Will Venable may see time against Scherzer as San Diego’s fourth outfielder is 4-for-9 with four RBI’s against him. However, the Nats right-hander owns Matt Kemp. Kemp is 0-for-21 with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Advantage: Both of these pitchers have had a rough time getting support from their offenses, so I would expect this to be a close game. Nevertheless, it is very tough to beat Scherzer when he is on his A game. I like the Washington Nationals to win this one as they will keep Cashner’s streak going of giving up the long ball.

Next: Sunday's Matchup