Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats at Phillies (6/26-6/28)
By Nick Engle
Jun 20, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Max Scherzer (8-5, 1.76 ERA) v. Aaron Harang (4-9, 3.41 ERA) Friday, 7:05 PM EST on MASN
The Nationals start the series against the Phillies by trotting out their ace, Max Scherzer against Aaron Harang.
On paper, this matchup couldn’t be more lopsided for the Nationals. Max Scherzer is coming off a no-hitter against the Pirates over the weekend. That start came after another nine innings of shutout ball his previous start against the Brewers only giving up one, a broken-bat single. Scherzer was the obvious choice for NL Player of the Week last week after his near perfect game and two dominate performances. I am not sure anyone can keep up this type of pitching, but you can always depend on a solid, if not outstanding start from Max Scherzer. The one stat that says everything about Mad Max: his batting average is .242 and his batting average against him is .181. Max is a gamer and expect another great performance from him.
As a complete contrast to Scherzer, Aaron Harang comes into this matchup struggling. He is in the midst of a six-game losing streak and he has given up four runs each of the last two times out. He has not gotten much run support from his club, but he is still giving up a lot of hits and runs to put his club in the position where they have to come from behind.
Harang has done a decent job against the Nats so far this year with a quality start each time and a 1-1 record.
This year, Harang has not fared well against lefties, and the big lefty bat for the Nats should have a good night. Bryce Harper is .455/.500/.727 against Harang lifetime and, if Espinosa gets the nod, he should also have a good night from the left side of the plate.
Advantage: Max Scherzer
This is an easy call. Max has been worth every penny the Nats paid for him and then some this year. He not only makes opponent batters look silly, he has been a valuable member of the Nationals squad off the field. He is a leader in the clubhouse and he makes the other members of the pitching staff better around him.
Look for Max to go deep in this game against a struggling Phillies lineup and for the Nats to have a field day, especially from the left side of the plate, taking an early lead in this three-game weekend set.
Next: Saturday's Matchup