Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Blue Jays (6/1-6/3)
By Ricky Keeler
May 22, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws the ball against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Marco Estrada (1-3, 3.89) vs. Max Scherzer (6-3, 1.51), 7:05 PM , MASN
Estrada is a pitcher that the Blue Jays acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers back in November in exchange for first baseman Adam Lind. Due to Toronto’s injuries in the rotation along with Daniel Norris going back to triple-A, the 31-year-old right-hander has had to slide into the rotation after starting the year in the bullpen.
While Estrada has pitched seven innings in each of his last two starts, he has given up his share of runs. He has allowed 14 runs in his last five starts and has walked nine batters in his last four.
He is a four-pitch pitcher (fastball, changeup, curveball, and cutter), but he mainly uses his fastball and changeup. His fastball, according to Fangraphs, averages 89 miles per hour. He does allow teams to get the ball in the air, as evident by the 19 fly ball outs he had in his last start against the White Sox.
Nobody on the Nationals has more than 11 at-bats against Estrada, but Ryan Zimmerman is 2-for-7 with a home run and four RBI’s.
As for Max Scherzer, he has everything the Nationals could have asked for and then some as the ace of this rotation. In his last start on May 28 against the Cubs, Scherzer gave up no runs on five hits and strike out 13 batters over the course of seven innings. He has gone at least seven innings in eight straight starts and has ten or more strikeouts in four of his last six.
Against the Blue Jays in his career, Scherzer is 4-0 with a 1.68 ERA in seven starts. Last season, he went eight innings and gave up one run on four hits and struck out 11 batters in a win vs. Toronto on August 9. He got a no-decision in that outing.
Both Bautista and Encarnacion have home runs against Scherzer, but Bautista has excellent numbers against the right-hander. He is 9-for-17 lifetime with four doubles, a home run, and three RBI’s.
Advantage: While Estrada might do enough to keep the Blue Jays in this game, Scherzer is on a roll right now. He has all of his pitches work and can even get his fastball up to 98 miles per hour during games. In his last four starts, he has given up a grand total of two runs. It’s tough to pick against the Nationals ace when he’s on such a roll right now.
Next: Wednesday's Matchup