Washington Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays Series Preview (6/15-6/18)

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Jun 12, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Andriese (1-1, 3.76) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 3.74), 7:05 PM ET, MASN2 + ESPN2

On Wednesday, the series will shift over to Nats Park for the final two games. The Rays will send rookie pitcher Matt Andriese to the mound for his fifth career start. In his last start against the White Sox on Friday, the 25-year-old right-hander picked up the first win of his career against the Chicago White Sox. In that outing, he gave up up two runs (no earned runs) on six hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out five batters and walked one.

As a starter, Andriese has a 4.41 ERA in four starts, but he has only thrown 16.1 innings. Andrriese, like Colome and Ramirez, is a four-pitch pitcher and has about the same average velocity as Ramirez. While he hasn’t given up more than four runs in any game this season, the Nationals need to work the pitch count up against Andreise, who has only averaged 71 pitches per start and has an opponents’ batting average of .308.

The Nationals have not yet announced a starter for Wednesday, but it looks like Jordan Zimmermann will get the start in this spot. Here is what Matt Williams had to say about the situation today, after Doug Fister threw a bullpen session along with Zimmermann:

In his last start, Zimmermann was not effective against the Brewers. He had his second shortest outing of the season when he went 3.1 innings, gave up six runs on nine hits, struck out four, and walked one in the loss. He had to throw 31 pitches in the first inning because of an Ian Desmond mistake on a potential double play, but he still threw 88 pitches in those 3.1 innings.

One of the problems for Zimmermann this season is that he has not struck out many batters. His season high for strikeouts in an outing is seven and he has only 16 strikeouts in his last four starts. After a great month of May, the 29-year-old right-hander has a 5.51 ERA in two June starts and has not pitched into the sixth inning. The Nats need Zimmermann to get back to his May form if they want to continue their winning ways.

Zimmermann made one start against the Rays at Tropicana Field back in June of 2009. He went five innings, gave up one run on four hits, struck out six, and walked two in a no-decision. The only Rays hitter who has a RBI against Zimmermann is first baseman James Loney (1-for-3 with a RBI).

Advantage: It will be interesting to see how the Nationals offense will adjust to Andriese after seeing him the first time thru, but it’s tough to see Zimmermann having three bad starts in a row. Plus, Zimmermann has a 2.58 ERA in seven starts at home this season (5.40 ERA in six road starts). The home field advantage gets the Nats a victory on Wednesday.

Next: Thursday's Matchup