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

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Jun 30, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) follows through on a pitch against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Vogelsong (6-6, 4.19) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (6-5, 3.16) – 8:08 PM ET, ESPN

When you look at Ryan Vogelsong’s 2015 season, he has been inconsistent in terms of what to expect from him. While he has not given up a run in three of his last eight starts, he has also given up four runs or more in three of those games as well. That being said, he has gone into the sixth innings in ten of his last 11 outings. The key for the Nats will be to stay patient against a pitcher who has walked 36 batters in 86 innings this season.

In his last start against the Marlins on June 30, the 37-year-old right-hander went six innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, struck out four, and walked three. After going 4-0 in five starts during the month of May, Vogelsong went 2-4 with a 4.11 ERA in June and he has an ERA of 5.40 in nine appearances (eight starts) on the road this year.

Vogelsong is 1-2 in nine appearances (five starts) against the Nationals with a 6.16 ERA. Last year in the regular season, the Nats scored nine runs against him in 11.1 innings. However, he was the winning pitcher against Gonzalez in Game 4 of the NLDS.

He went 5.2 innings, gave up one run on two hits, struck out four, and walked two on 81 pitches in the win. The only run that was scored against him was a RBI double by Bryce Harper in the fifth. Ian Desmond is 4-for-10 against Vogelsong with one home run and six RBI’s in his career.

When you look at Jordan Zimmermann’s last three starts, he has been excellent. Over his last 22.2 innings, the 29-year-old right-hander has given up three earned runs and has thrown back-to-back shutouts over that span. Plus, while both starts were against the Braves, he did not walk a batter and has just four walks in his last four games combined.

Against Atlanta on June 30, he went 7.2 innings, gave up no runs on six hits, struck out six, and did not walk a batter. Despite a rough start to the month of June, Zimmermann went 2-3 in six starts with a 3.00 ERA and had 28 strikeouts (most of any month this season).

Against the Giants in the regular season, Zimmermann is 5-2 in eight starts with a 2.79 ERA and has won five of his last six starts against. Of course, the start against the Giants that everyone remembers is Game 2 of last year’s NLDS, when Zimmermann got a no-decision.

Zimmermann went 8.2 innings in that game, gave up one run on three hits, struck out six, and walked one. He had one out to go for a complete game, but after walking Joe Panik, Matt Williams went to Drew Storen to try to close it out. However, Posey would single and Sandoval would hit a double down the left field line to tie the game. One Giant hitter to watch in this game is first baseman Brandon Belt (.268, 9 HR, 35 RBI’s), who is 2-for-7 with two RBI’s against him.

Advantage: In his last three starts, Zimmermann has gone back to the dominant form that Nats fans saw during the bulk of the 2014 season. Vogelsong has been good at times, but his lack of control should benefit the Nationals hitters, if they stay patient. It’s another national stage for Zimmermann, with the game on ESPN, and I expect the Nats to make a statement after a tough Atlanta series and take two of three from the defending World Champs.

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