Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats Vs. Reds (7/6-7/8)

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Jul 4, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier hits a double in the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park. The Brewers won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, the Washington Nationals (46-36) were able to make a statement against the team that ended their season back in October. In their sweep of the San Francisco Giants, the Nats outscored San Francisco 12-5 and received good starting pitching from Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann. However, Strasburg is now on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.

While Bryce Harper, who was named as an NL All-Star starter last night, got on-base in nearly every at-bat (5-for-8, four runs scored, a home run, two RBI’s, and five walks), there was good performances from players who have stepped up recently as starters. Clint Robinson hit the deciding two run homer off Jake Peavy in Friday’s 2-1 win and Tyler Moore had four RBI’s on the fourth of July.

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With their recent sweep, the Nationals have now won nine straight home games and are ahead of the New York Mets by 4.5 games in the NL East. They get set to begin a three game series tonight against the Cincinnati Reds (36-44), a team that swept them back at the Great American Ball Park at the end of May.

During that series, the Reds outscored the Nationals 21-9 and got great performances from their star players on offense. Third baseman and All-Star starter Todd Frazier (.285, 25 HR, 54 RBI’s) went 8-for-12 with two home runs and three RBI’s during the series. In addition, first baseman Joey Votto (.273, 14 HR, 39 RBI’s, .387 on-base percentage), went 4-for-10 with two home runs and three RBI’s. One of the differences from that series is the addition of David Carpenter to a bullpen that had trouble getting Reds’ hitters out in that series.

Coming into this series, Bryan Price’s team is reeling. They have lost seven of their last nine games and are 14-17 since June 1. They are currently 16.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, it remains to be seen which players will be in Reds’ uniforms on August 1.

Some of the names that have been floated out there in trade rumors including ace pitcher Johnny Cueto, who is in the final year of his deal, starting pitcher Mike Leake (5-5, 4.39), and closer Aroldis Chapman (16 saves, 3.78 ERA), who has been linked to the Nationals.

Before tonight’s series begins between the Nationals and Reds, let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup