Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Cubs (5/25-27)
By Pablo Roa
May 22, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws to the Philadelphia Phillies during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 2 – 1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Max Scherzer (5-3, 1.67 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (4-2, 3.56 ERA) — 8:05 p.m. ET, MASN 2 and MLB Network
Wednesday night’s pitching matchup is by far the most exciting matchup of the series and could be one of the best pitcher’s duels we see this season, as aces Max Scherzer and Jon Lester square off in the final game of the three game series at Wrigley Field.
Scherzer and Lester are not only two of the best pitchers in the game, but they also enter Wednesday’s matchup with very similar backgrounds. Both pitchers dominated in the American League over the last few years before signing monster free agent deals with their current teams during the offseason.
For the Nationals, it was a 7-year, $210 million price tag to sign the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner. For the Cubs, it took a 6-year, $155 million deal to bring Lester to the Windy City and help the team complete its transformation into one of the most promising young teams in the game.
While both starters were very well-credentialed entering the season and rightfully earned their massive paydays, Scherzer has thus far been the most impressive of the two because he has been dominant all season long, as opposed to Lester who had a very rough April.
Scherzer has been absolutely as advertised for the Nationals. He’s been the leader of the rotation and, along with Harper, he’s been the heart and soul of this ball club. The right-hander dominated once again his last time out, holding the Phillies to just one run on four hits while striking out six over eight dominant innings. Scherzer has allowed one run or fewer in seven of his nine starts this season.
Lester struggled mightily early in the season but has pitched much better of late, allowing two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts. The Cubs’ left-hander pitched well his last time out, giving up two runs on five hits over seven solid innings.
Advantage: While I believe Scherzer and the Nationals have a slight edge in this one simply because Scherzer has been unstoppable all season long, I fully expect this to be a very close game that will ultimately come down which offense scores first.