May 24, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Nationals (28-19) travel to Cincinnati tonight to take on the Reds (19-27) for a three-game weekend set.
This series couldn’t be the tale of two more different franchises. The Nationals are coming off another series win to make their streak nine series wins in a row The Reds, on the other hand, are fresh off a nine game losing streak and are 8-16 in the month of May.
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The offense for the Reds just hasn’t been there with second baseman Brandon Phillips as their best option banged up a bit and Joey Votto also struggling in May going .235/.323/.282 after a hot start to the season. The club as a team averages 3.70 runs whereas the Nats are at the top of the league at 4.66.
The key for the Nationals will be to keep Phillips and Votto in check and to keep Billy Hamilton off the bases. The Nationals pitching staff has a relatively good record against Phillips and Votto, although the teams do not meet that often. In addition keeping Hamilton off the bases isn’t as hard a task as it may seem as he has done that to himself this year as evidenced by a terrible .263 OBP.
The Nats may have to face Cueto on Sunday – the Reds think he will be good to go but it will be a decision they make this weekend – and Strasburg still needs to prove to everyone he is ready to go this year, but I do not think the Nats will have much trouble with the scuffling Reds.
I don’t have to mention to you how well Bryce Harper is playing in the May considering he won NL Player of the Week the first two weeks of the month and leads or shares the lead in almost every offensive statistical category, which includes walks, runs, RBIs, SLG, homers, and OBP. He needs to pick up his game a bit with the average though because a .330 is just not going to cut it.
The key for the Nats offense is to get on base this series and let Bryce be Bryce and carry this ball club though injuries. Look for the Nationals to continue their hot streak and take at least two-out-of-three games against the Reds. Depending on how well Strasburg pitches to open the series tonight, this could be a three-game sweep. If the Nats do win this series, it will be franchise record tenth consecutive series won.
Before we count our series victories before they hatch, let’s take a look at the pitching matchups to see who has the advantage in each game.
Next: Tonight's Matchup