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

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Jul 2, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto (5-5, 2.84) vs. Max Scherzer (9-6, 1.82) – 7:05 PM ET, MASN

The battle of aces should be exciting to watch at Nats Park on Tuesday, even though both pitchers could miss the All-Star Game if both start on regular rest Sunday night.

Cueto has been one of the main pitchers that has been talked about in trade rumors along with Cole Hamels. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 0.92 WHIP and is coming off a great start against the Twins on July 1. In that game, he went eight innings, gave up one run on four hits, struck out eight, and walked one.

In five starts during the month of June, he went 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA. In ten starts against the Nats, Cueto is 6-3 with 4.06 ERA. Danny Espinosa is 3-for-11 against him with three RBI’s.

As for Max Scherzer, there’s not much more you can say about how dominant he has been. The pitcher of the month in the NL for May and June had another good start on July 2 against the Braves, but took the loss. He went 8.1 innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out nine, and did not walk a batter. In fact, the Nats’ ace has not walked anybody in his last three starts.

Right now, Scherzer has been Mr. Reliable in the Nats rotation. He has thrown the most innings in the National League, is second in strikeouts, second in ERA, and has a 0.78 WHIP, which leads the league. Whenever you watch a Scherzer start lately, you get the sense history can happen.

Scherzer only has one start in his career against the Reds, but that was back in 2008 when he gave up one run on two hits in a no-decision. Jay Bruce (.238, 12 HR, 40 RBI’s) is 1-for-2 against him with a solo home run.

Advantage: I expect this game to live up to the hype in terms of both pitchers bringing their A game to the table. That being said, it is tough to not pick Scherzer in this one because he has been dominant in his last four starts. Give me the Nationals in a 3-2 game.

Next: Wednesday's Matchup