Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Rockies (8/7-8/9)

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Jul 17, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris (R) steals third during the third inning ahead of the throw to Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

While the recent series against the Arizona Diamondbacks wasn’t the greatest for the Washington Nationals (56-51) were able to salvage a split from the D’Backs thanks to a 8-3 win yesterday. While there were some good moments in the series, including Wilson Ramos’ game-winning two-run single in the bottom of the eighth on Tuesday and another good pitching performance from Joe Ross yesterday, the series had its negative moments.

On Wedneday, the bullpen gave up the final nine runs of the game and Matt Williams had to go to Tyler Moore to finish the game. That led to the Nats’ manager having to call a team meeting before yesterday’s win. After the win Thursday, Williams announced that it will be Doug Fister to go the bullpen as Stephen Strasburg will return to the rotation on Saturday.

Coming into this weekend’s series, the Nationals trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the NL East and the Chicago Cubs by three games for the second NL Wild Card. Before the team heads out West for a ten game road trip, the Nationals will host the Colorado Rockies (45-61) for a three-game series. The Rockies, who are in last place in the NL West, are a team that has gone through some recent changes, including trading away their superstar shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki.

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Back on July 28, the Rockies traded Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes, and three pitching prospect (Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman, and Jesus Tinoco). Since joining the Rockies, Reyes is hitting .207 with three RBI’s in seven games. However, when you talk about this Rockies’ team, the conversation begins with their offense.

This season, Walt Weiss’ club is fourth in runs scored, second in batting average, and second in slugging percentage. Third baseman and All-Star Nolan Arenado is hitting .273 with 26 home runs, 80 RBI’s, and has a .553 slugging percentage. Another All-Star, second baseman D.J. Lehmaieu, is hitting .322 this season and has a .371 average since the All-Star Break (.457 on-base). Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (.279, 22 HR, 56 RBI’s) is hitting .375 with nine home runs since the break.

The problem for the Rockies has been pitching. While they recently called up one of their top pitching prospects, Jon Gray, their starters’ ERA of 5.26 is tied with the Phillies for the worst in baseball. The bullpen is not much better, as the team’s 4.53 ERA is the worst in the NL. With Latroy Hawkins now in Toronto, John Axford has been the closer, but he has blown five saves this season and has not saved a game since July 10.

With that being said, let’s take a look at who has the edge in the three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup