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

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Aug 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Butler (3-8, 5.45) vs. Max Scherzer (11-8, 2.31) – 1:35 PM, MASN

Eddie Butler comes into this start after a rough outing against the Mariners on August 3. In that start, he went four innings, gave up seven runs on seven hits, struck out two, and walked one in a loss. The 24-year-old right-hander has given up 19 runs in his last four starts (20.1 innings).

When you look at Butler’s stats, he is not a pitcher that is going to cause many hitters to swing and miss. This season, he has 38 strikeouts to go with 37 walks. Since May 1, Butler has only won one game (May 30 against the Phillies).

You could say that Butler is one of those pitchers who have not handled Coors Field well. He is 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in six starts at home compared to a 2-4 record with a 4.08 ERA in eight road outings. Butler has a slider, curveball, changeup, and a fastball that averages 93 miles per hour on the radar gun. He has not faced the Nationals in his career.

On the other side, when you look at Max Scherzer’s last start, he was able to grind his way through six innings, but he did not have his best stuff in terms of control. In six innings of work against the Diamondbacks on August 4, Scherzer gave up three runs on four hits, struck out nine, and walked three on 115 pitches in a no-decision.

Lately, the problem for the 31-year-old right-hander has been his control. In his last four starts, Scherzer has walked eight batters, including back-to-back outings in which he has walked three hitters. In four starts since the All-Star Break, he is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

In five career starts against the Rockies, Scherzer is 1-3 with a 3.99 ERA, but he has not faced Colorado since 2012. Carlos Gonzalez is 1-for-6 against him with a home run.

Advantage: If Scherzer can cut down on the walks, he still has the ability to dominate every time he steps on the mound. While the Nationals may have a tough time adjusting to Butler early, I expect them to come up with one crooked inning, which should be enough for their ace. While I don’t like to pick sweeps, the Nationals could use a sweep to build their confidence up before they begin a critical ten game West Coast trip. Nats find a way to get the sweep behind a great outing by Scherzer.

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