Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals-Yankees (6/9-6/10)

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Jun 3, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76) – 7:05 PM ET, MASN and MLB Network

Right now, these are two of the best pitchers in the game and it should be an entertaining pitcher’s duel tonight at Yankee Stadium. Let’s start by taking a look at Scherzer, who has a lot of experience pitching in the Bronx (4-2, 3.79 ERA in six starts)

Last time out, against the Blue Jays, Scherzer did not look like the guy who won NL Pitcher Of The Month for May. He went six innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out five batters, and walked two in the loss. It was the first time that Scherzer lost a game since April 23 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

While Scherzer still was effective without as much velocity on his fastball, he was not able to figure out Kevin Pillar, who hit two home runs off of him. It could be possible that the right-hander was still feeling some fatigue after his 13-strikeout performance against the Chicago Cubs on May 27. Nevertheless, he is still giving the Nats length in outings that they desperately need. He has thrown six innings or more in every start this season. Teixeira does have a home run against Scherzer, but he is only 3-for-13 against him.

When you look at Masahiro Tanaka, all of the talk before the season was about how the 26-year-old right-hander would pitch this season after having a slight tear in his UCL last July. While Tanaka has recently come back from a forearm strain, his last start against Seattle brought back flashes of the player that went 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA last season.

In that outing, Tanaka went seven innings, gave up one run on three hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter. He threw 78 pitches (58 strikes) and had his fastball go as fast as 96 miles per hour. While there will always be a worry when Tanaka takes the mound, he has given up a combined two earned runs in his last three starts. He has never faced the Nationals in his career.

Advantage: I don’t expect either pitcher to have a bad outing in this one. Scherzer should bounce back, but the Yankees have that confidence that whenever Tanaka takes the mound, they are going to win. Due to the Nats unfamiliarity with Tanaka, I am going to give the Yankees the slight edge here, but look for a 3-2, 4-3 kind of game. Runs will be at a premium in this one.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup