Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals at Brewers (6/11-6/14)

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Jun 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (8) reacts at second base after hitting a double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Down 4-2 in the eighth inning, the Washington Nationals were four outs away from being swept by the Yankees and losing ten of their last 12 games. Then, Michael Taylor came up in the clutch with a two-run homer to right against Jacob Lindgren to tie the game. The Nats would rally back to win 5-4 in 11 innings and salvage a split of the two-game series and take three of four from the New York Yankees in the season series.

With the win yesterday afternoon and the Mets loss to the Giants, the Nationals will enter tonight’s game with a ½ game lead in the NL East. However, at 31-28, they have not been playing with as much consistency as fans would like.

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At first glance, this upcoming series against the Milwaukee Brewers (22-38) seems like one the Nats should handle with ease. As of late, however, the Brewers have been played well against some good teams.

They have won their last two series against the Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the month of June, Milwaukee has the best ERA in the National League (2.22). In nine games, they have given up five runs or more twice. It is a great sign for a team that has the worst record in baseball and has already made a managerial change this year.

Last month, general manager Doug Melvin made the decision to fire manager Ron Roenicke and hire Craig Counsell, Matt Williams’ teammate in Arizona, to be the new manager. On offense, this is a team that has the worst batting average and on-base percentage as a team in baseball.

When you look at some of their key players, left fielder Ryan Braun is hitting .261 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI’s. Braun leads the team in homers, four ahead of one of their new acquisitions from this offseason, first baseman Adam Lind. Lind, who was acquired via trade from Toronto, is hitting .279 with nine home runs, 31 RBI’s, and a team high 58 hits.

With the Brewers in sell mode at the trade deadline, it will be interesting whether or not they decide to trade key pieces such as third baseman Aramis Ramirez (seven home runs), center fielder Carlos Gomez (.276, five home runs), and shortstop Jean Segura (.281 average). In the month of June, the 25-year-old is hitting .313.

Before we talk about the starters in this series, let’s take a look at the bullpen. The Brewers’ pen as a whole has a 3.36 ERA, which is sixth in the National League. Closer Francisco Rodriguez has 12 saves in 16 chances, but one name to keep an eye on is Michael Blazek. The 26-year-old right-hander has appeared in 24 games and has a 1.15 ERA. In fact, he has only given up four earned runs the entire season.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the four pitching matchups this weekend at Miller Park: