Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats At Orioles (7/10-7/12)

1 of 4

Jun 30, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) signals to the crowd after hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With just three games left until the All-Star Break, the Washington Nationals (46-38) will look to end the first half of the season on a high note. After sweeping the San Francisco Giants, the Nats lost both home games this week against the Cincinnati Reds, making their record 0-5 against Cincinnati this season.

Plus, the Nats will be without center field Denard Span as he is on the 15-day disabled list due to tightness in his back. Span went to see a specialist in Texas on Thursday to get more of a prognosis on why he keeps having recurring back spasms. With the Nats banged up on offense, they could use the break to get healthy. But, first, they have to run into their beltway rivals, the Baltimore Orioles (43-42), who are right near the top of the AL East.

More from Max Scherzer

Coming into this weekend’s series at Camden Yards, Buck Showalter’s club is three games behind the Yankees in the AL East. The strength of this team is on offense. They have scored the seventh most runs in baseball and have the fourth most home runs in the American League (104). Their offense is led by two All-Stars: center fielder Adam Jones and third baseman Manny Machado.

Machado, who will also be in the Home Run Derby on Monday in Cincinnati, is hitting .301 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI’s to go with a .360 on-base percentage. He has hit three home runs in his last five games. As for Adam Jones, who is now one of the starting outfielders in the All-Star Game, he is hitting .284 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI’s.

When you look at Baltimore’s pitching, their bullpen has the edge over the rotation. Baltimore’s bullpen has a 2.95 ERA, which is third in the AL. They have two All-Stars in closer Zach Britton (23 saves in 24 chances) and left-handed setup man Darren O’Day (1.10 ERA in 34 games).

The starting rotation, however, might be the one thing that holds the Orioles back. Baltimore’s rotation is eighth in the AL in ERA (4.18) and their best starter this season has arguably been Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 2.81 ERA). In fact, one of their best starters last season, Bud Norris, is now in the bullpen because of his 6.79 ERA. Their starters have 28 wins, which is tied for the second fewest in the AL.

Let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup