Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Giants (7/3-7/5)

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Jun 21, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Peavy (0-2, 9.39 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (5-4, 4.41) – 6:05 PM ET, MASN and ESPN

As I mentioned earlier, Jake Peavy will be making his first start since April 17 tonight because of a back strain. Even before he went on the disabled list, the 34-year-old right-hander gave up four runs and did not go past four innings in both of his starts this year.

Last season, after being traded over to the Giants from Boston, he went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts. He was also the winner of Game 1 in last year’s NLDS when he was able to shut out the Nats. He went 5.2 innings, gave up two hits, struck out three batters, and walked three in that game.

In 12 appearances (11 starts) against the Nationals during the regular season, Peavy is 4-5 with a 3.87 ERA. Ian Desmond and Dan Uggla have home runs against him, but the player to watch in this one is leadoff hitter Denard Span. The Nats center fielder is 7-for-20 against Peavy with five doubles.

While Peavy will be trying to shake off some rust in this outing, Gio Gonzalez will be looking to do the same. Last Saturday, Gonzalez’s outing was cut short after one inning because the game was cancelled due to rain. He has not pitched since June 27, so will his stuff stay sharp tonight?

His control is still going to be an issue in this outing. The 29-year-old right-hander has walked 12 batters in his last four starts, but he has had three straight outings in which he has induced ten or more groundball outs. In the month of June, Gonzalez went 1-2 with a 3.57 ERA in four starts.

Gonzalez is 2-2 in seven career starts against the Giants with a 2.59 ERA. Last season, he got the start in Game 4 of the NLDS. He went four innings, gave up two runs (none earned) on four hits, struck out one, and walked one in a no decision. Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford (.270, 11 HR, 47 RBI’s) is 2-for-6 against the lefty with a home run and two RBI’s.

Advantage: This start is going to come down to who can shake off the rust quicker when you consider both pitchers will likely not be sharp in the early stages. Both teams are coming in reeling, but I like the Nationals to find a way to take this one in a close game to get the series started on a good note. Gonzalez can be inconsistent, but he will be able to get some key double plays to help him get out of trouble.

Next: Tomorrow Morning's Matchup