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

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Jul 26, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) throws a pitch in the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.95) vs. Joe Ross (2-3, 3.00) – 4:05 PM, MASN

While Hellickson had a rough outing in his last start against the Astros, he has shown signs of improvement this season. In that game against Houston on August 1, Hellickson gave up six earned runs (seven runs) on seven hits, struck out two, and walked two against a good lineup.

Despite that bad outing, the 28-year-old right-hander had a strong July. In four starts, he went 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA and gave up no more than two runs in any starts. He had five walks and held opponents to a .200 batting average. That being said, he is 2-4 with a 5.94 ERA in ten games this season on the road (5-3, 4.03 in ten home starts).

Hellickson did face the Nationals on May 13 and got a no-decision. In that game, he went 5.2 innings, gave up four runs on four hits, struck out three, and walked four (a season-high). Yunel Escobar is 5-for-19 against him with a home run and a RBI.

As for Joe Ross, he has not won a game since returning to the rotation, but he has still had a couple strong outings. He has given up seven runs in those three games in which he has faced off against Jacob deGrom (twice) and Gerrit Cole.

Back on August 1, the 22-year-old right-hander went 6.1 innings, gave up two runs (two Lucas Duda home runs) on four hits, struck out six, and walked one in a no-decision. Ross’ command of all his pitches have been on point all season as he has walked four batters in 39 innings of work.

However, the one downside to Ross is that he has not been able to go deep into games. Even though he was only at 84 pitches heading into the seventh, the 92 pitches Ross threw against the Mets were the most he has had since returning to the Major League rotation. Plus, keep in mind, he only threw as many as five innings in a start with triple-A Syracuse.

Advantage: While a four game sweep would be huge for the Nationals after their recent road struggles, Arizona will salvage the series with a win in this game as the Nationals have only scored five runs in Ross’ last three games. Even though Hellickson struggled against Houston, you have to think that start was a blip rather than a trend after his strong July.

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