Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats at Dodgers (8/10-8/12)

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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross (3-3, 2.80) vs. Zack Greinke (11-2, 1.71 ERA) – 10:10 PM ET, MASN

Since Joe Ross has returned to the rotation, he has been going up against some of the best pitchers in the game (Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom twice), Greinke will be the latest ace that Ross will face. However, he has handled himself well in those games and has earned staying in the rotation ahead of Doug Fister.

While Ross is only 1-2 in his last four starts, the win-loss record does not tell the whole story. The 22-year-old right-hander has a 2.92 ERA in those four games, has 24 strikeouts to two walks, and a .202 opponents’ batting average against (best in the Nats’ rotation).

Ross has shown pinpoint control in his short tenure in the bigs with his fastball and slider and he has been dominant against right-handed hitters. This season, righties are hitting .161 with four RBI’s and have struck out 29 times in 93 at-bats. However, he has his work ahead of him tomorrow night.

Even though Zack Greinke gave up five runs in the first inning in his last start against the Phillies, the right-hander found other ways to contribute and pick up a win. He hit a solo shot in the third inning to put Los Angeles up 7-5 en route to 10-8 win. Greinke gave up six runs over six innings, but struck out eight batters for the second straight start.

The 31-year-old has not lost a game since June 13 against the Padres. While he does not have the long scoreless inning streak anymore, he still has the best ERA (1.71) and WHIP (0.85). Against the Nats and Max Scherzer back on July 19, Greinke went eight innings, gave up no runs on three hits, struck out 11, and walked one on three hits.

In six starts against the Nats, Greinke is 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA. Anthony Rendon is 1-for-3 agaisnt him with a home run and two RBI’s. That two-run homer came last season at Nats Park in the first inning of a 4-0 win on May 5.

Advantage: While I expect Ross to hold his own against Greinke, the Nats’ offense is going to have a tough time against one of the favorites for the NL Cy Young. Yes, the return of Rendon, Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth will help, but I want to see if Bryce Harper can have a big series against Greinke and Kershaw. Harper is hitting .387 this month, but has yet to hit a home run. If the Nats want to win this series, Harper needs at least one of those. Dodgers get a win behind another dominant outing from Greinke.

Next: Wednesday's Matchup