Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Diamondbacks (8/3-8/6)

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Jul 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (44) hits a two-RBI single against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since July 22, the Washington Nationals (54-49) will be playing a home game tonight as they begin a seven game homestand. However, Matt Williams’ club comes in reeling. Despite getting Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman back, the Nats went 3-7 over the course of a ten game road trip.

The road trip culminated with the team losing its sole lead in the NL East lead as the New York Mets swept them in a three game series at Citi Field. The Nationals scored five runs during the three games against Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Two of those came via solo home runs from Rendon and Yunel Escobar last night.

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The first of two opponents during this homestand for the Nats will be the Arizona Diamondbacks (50-53). Washington took two of three from Arizona at Chase Field in May, a series that ended with a Michael Taylor pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth inning of the rubber game. Arizona lost two out of three games against the Houston Astros over the weekend, but they did end the month of July with a 13-11 record. Currently, the D’Backs are nine games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

One of the main criticisms of Arizona’s squad lately is that general manager Dave Stewart did not make one move, buying or selling, at the trade deadline. Arizona was not expected to contend this season in the NL West, but one player who has kept them close to a .500 record is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

Goldschmidt is part of an offense that is in the top ten in the league in runs scored, batting average, and on-base percentage. The 27-year-old is hitting .342 with 22 home runs, a league leading 77 RBI’s, and a league leading 83 walks. While he has hit over .300 in every month this season, he only had two home runs in July.

Another hitter to watch on Chip Hale’s team is All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock. While Pollock missed yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury, the 27-year-old is hitting .305 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI’s this year.

On the mound, Arizona has struggled to find consistent starting pitching. Their starters’ ERA of 4.52 is the third highest in the National League, ahead of only the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite that, Wednesday’s starter, Rubby De La Rosa, has eight wins in his first season in the National League.

While the starters have struggled, the bullpen has not been bad. The 3.33 relievers’ ERA is seventh in the NL, just behind the Nationals (3.28). Brad Ziegler has settled into the closer role after Addison Reed struggled to start the season. The 35-year-old has saved 18 games in 20 chances and has a 1.18 ERA.

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

Next: Tonight's Matchup