Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Blue Jays (6/1-6/3)

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May 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

R.A. Dickey (2-5, 5.77) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.26) – 7:05 PM ET, broadcast on MASN

After facing a couple of rookies over the weekend in Cincy, the Nationals offense now has to go up against a tricky knuckleballer in R.A. Dickey. The 40-year old righty, who has been with Toronto for the last two seasons, has to be happy that the month of May is over.

In five starts during the month of May, he went 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA, giving up 23 runs in 33 total innings. After a complete game against the Angels on May 21 (four earned runs on five hits), he gave up five runs on eight hits in a no-decision against the White Sox on May 26.

One of the main problems for Dickey this season has been his control. He has 23 walks this season, which is in the top ten in the American League. Dickey is 4-6 against the Nationals with a 3.73 ERA in 13 career starts. He hasn’t faced the Nats since he was the Mets in 2012 (2-2, 3.25 ERA)

Some hitters to watch in tonight’s game are Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmermann. Ramos is an amazing 9-for-13 against Dickey with a home run and three RBi’s. As for Zimmerman, he is 9-for-29 with a home run and two RBI’s.

Jordan Zimmermann will be going up against a tough lineup, but he seems to be back to form. In his last start against the Cubs, he went seven innings, gave up one run on six hits, struck out five and walked three. He has now put up five quality starts in a row and he had a 1.91 ERA in five starts in May (4.13 in April).

That being said, there are some concerns about the Nats 29-year-old right-hander. For one, he has walked eight hitters in his last four starts, including three batters in his last start in Chicago. In addition, he has not got off to good starts in games. He has given up six first inning runs this season. To put that in comparison, he gave up seven first inning runs all of last year.

The hitter to watch in this Blue Jays lineup is shortstop Jose Reyes. He is 8-for-22 with a double and two walks. Zimmermann’s only start against Toronto came in 2009 when he gave up one run on five hits in 5.2 innings.

Advantage: With the way the Nationals offense has been struggling, Dickey could be the pitcher that helps them get back on track. If he can’t locate that knuckleball, there could be a couple pitches up in the zone that the Nats can take advantage of. Plus, despite Zimmermann’s first inning struggles, he has been able to right the ship and put together some impressive outings. I would expect Zimmermann to have another seven inning, three-run performance since the team desperately needs one. Washington gets the win in the opener.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup