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

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Jun 2, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws to the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning in game one of a double header at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.99) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (5-2, 2.88), 4:05 PM ET, MASN2

These two pitchers faced off against each other back on May 26 in the second game of the three-game series. Both pitchers had good outings in that contest, but they each got no-decisions in the 3-2 walk-off win by the Cubs.

Let’s start with Hendricks. The Nats saw him for the first time in that game and were not able to figure out his changeup and sinker that he threw out of the zone. In seven innings, the 25-year-old right-hander gave up one run on four hits, struck out four batters, and walked two. The only run that Hendricks gave up was the solo home run by Bryce Harper in the seventh inning.

In his last start against the Marlins on June 2, Hendricks went six innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, struck out seven, and walked two in the loss. While he has been very good at time, Hendricks has given up four runs or more in a start four times this season. In the month of May, he was 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five starts.

As for Jordan Zimmermann, he continued his quality start streak in Game 1 of the doubleheader against Toronto. Against one of the best offenses in baseball, he gave up no runs on six hits, struck out four batters and walked one over eight innings. With that dominant outing, Zimmermann has had a quality start in each of his last eight outings.

Against the Cubs, he gave up a Dexter Fowler home run to lead off the game, which has been the theme this season in terms of first inning struggles for the right-hander. However, even though the Cubs had chances to score, they were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position until the Russell double in the ninth.

In that outing, Zimmermann went seven innings, gave up one run on six hits, struck out five, and walked three on a season high 113 pitches. The key in this start is going to be can Zimmermann avoid the walks against a tough Cubs lineup, despite their recent struggles. In the month of May, the 29-year-old was 2-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts.

The player to watch on Chicago for the final game of this series is Miguel Montero. The Cubs catcher is 7-for-19 with three doubles, two home runs, and two RBI’s against him.

Advantage: As good as Hendricks was in his last start, Zimmermann has been one of the best starters in baseball over the last month or so. I expect this game to be close between these two just like the last series had three very close games. That being said, I like Zimmermann to win the series finale and the Nats to take three out of four in a series where they avoid Cubs’ ace Jon Lester.

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