Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Cubs (6/4-6/7)

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May 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) hits a home run against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Washington Nationals did not begin their seven game homestand on the right note. After Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen combined to shut out the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Tuesday, Max Scherzer gave up two home runs to Kevin Pillar in Game 2, which led to a 7-3 Blue Jays win.

Last night, Taylor Jordan gave up four runs in the first inning in a 8-0 loss to Toronto, but that is not the main issue right now for Matt Williams’s squad. In their last four games, the Nats have scored a grand total of seven runs. This includes being shut out by Mark Buehrle, who threw a complete game against them. It remains to be seen if the Nationals might get second baseman Anthony Rendon back this weekend. Rendon has been in Harrisburg on a rehab assignment as he tries to heal from his oblique injury.

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The Nats will look to get back on track offensively this weekend against the Chicago Cubs in a four game series. These two teams met back on May 25-27 at Wrigley Field, a series in which the Nationals took two out of three games. Since that series, the Cubs have lost three of their five games and they are coming off losing two out of three against the Miami Marlins. Chicago has been struggling as well with their bats as they have scored only eight runs in their last four.

When you talk about these two teams, the conversation begins with two childhood friends: Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant. Both young stars had two home runs in the last series, but neither has hit a home run since.

Two hitters I want to talk about on the Cubs are first baseman Anthony Rizzo and second baseman Adidison Russell. Rizzo (.317, 9 HR, 31 RBI’s) is currently on a eight-game hit streak and has at least one double in each of his last three games. As for Russell, who Joe Maddon uses out of the number nine spot, he went 4-for-11 against the Nats, including the walk-off double against Matt Grace in game two of that series.

Right now, the Cubs (27-24) are in third place in the NL Central and seven games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the main reasons for that is their bullpen. Their ‘pen has lost ten games (5th most in the NL), has blown eight saves, and has a 3.96 ERA (Nationals ‘pen has a 3.65 ERA)

Which team will break out of their offensive slump this week? We will find out. Let’s take a look at the four pitching matchups that will take place at Nats Park:

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