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

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Jun 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (52) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross (0-1, 5.40) vs. Jimmy Nelson (3-6, 4.05) – 4:10 PM ET, MASN

Even though Ross lost his Major League debut last Saturday afternoon against the Cubs, it was still a good first impression for the 22-year-old. He went five innings, gave up three runs on six hits, struck out four, and did not walk a batter.

According to Brooks Baseball, Ross used his four-seam fastball on 46 of his 91 pitches, but it averaged out at about 93 miles per hour. Ross brings four pitches to the mound with him: a fastball, slider, changeup, and sinker. He was able to induce 12 groundball outs, which is something he will need to repeat on Saturday when he goes to a hitter’s park in Miller Park.

This is Ross’ chance to make one last impression on the Nats staff as Doug Fister will make a rehab start Friday night at double-A Harrisburg. If all goes well, Fister will be back in the rotation and will likely take his spot. Still, Ross gets a taste of the big leagues and he is showing that there is a bright future ahead of him.

While Jimmy Nelson did not give up a run in his last outing against the Pirates (June 8), he did give up 11 runs in his previous two starts combined. He does have three wins this season and two of those three wins came against the Pirates.

Last season, the 26-year-old right-hander went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA in 12 starts. The problem for Nelson in just his second year in the big leagues is control. He has 28 walks this season, which is one behind Garza for the team lead. He has walked five batters in a start twice over his last ten outings.

Advantage: With Ross or Nelson having never faced any of the opposing hitters they will see on Saturday, it will be interesting to see which team is the first to make the correct adjustments as each pitcher works their way thru the order. I like Ross’ potential, but this is the game that the Brewers win in a close shootout. Washington’s bullpen outside of Casey Janssen and Drew Storen has been a real struggle and the ‘pen will lose them this one on Saturday.