Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
While the Washington Nationals (60-60) were able to take two out of three games from the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field this week, they were not able to gain much ground on the Mets in the NL East. Due to last night’s 3-2 loss to Colorado, the Nats dropped to four behind New York, which is only a half game improvement from when the season began.
Even though you want the Nationals to win as many series as they can with only 42 games left in the season, every game becomes critical. Plus, the Nationals finished 3-7 on their ten game West Coast trip, a stretch that considered a make-or-break moment for this team’s season.
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Despite the Nats not sweeping Colorado, there were some good signs from the team during the series. Stephen Strasburg held the Rockies to two hits and Jayson Werth hit a clutch two-run triple in the eighth during Wednesday night’s win, Michael Taylor hit a monster home run to tie the game last night in the seventh, and Bryce Harper went 4-for-10 in the series with five walks and five runs scored.
While the road wasn’t too kind to the Nationals, they are now back home at Nats Park and they will be there for quite a while. Starting tonight, the Nats play nine straight games at home and 16 of their next 19. Their first opponent for this homestand will be the Milwaukee Brewers (52-70), who are in last place in the NL Central.
Back in May, the Nats split a four game series with Craig Counsell’s club at Miller Park, a series in which Max Scherzer threw a complete game one-hitter with 16 strikeouts and Joe Ross gave up two runs over eight innings in both Nats’ wins. However, this is a different Brewer team than the one Washington faced months ago because of all the trades their organization made.
Before the trade deadline, the Brewers traded center fielder Carlos Gomez and starting pitcher Mike Fiers to Houston, third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the Pirates, and left fielder Gerardo Parra to the Baltimore Orioles. Even though Milwaukee sold some of its key pieces, it allows their farm system to get stronger and gives some players the chance to audition for roles for the 2016 season. One of those pieces, center fielder Domingo Santana, makes his Brewers debut tonight in center field.
As a team, Milwaukee has struggled scoring runs since the All-Star break. Their total of 119 runs is the third lowest in the National League, ahead of only the Cardinals and Braves. However, one player to watch is left fielder Khris Davis (.239, 14 HR, 41 RBI’s). While the 27-year-old is hitting .229 since the break, he does have eight home runs and 23 RBI’s during that stretch, including seven home runs in the month of August. Of course the guy to watch in their lineup is still right fielder Ryan Braun (.276, 22 HR, 72 RBI’s), who has a .359 on-base percentage in his last 104 at-bats and has seven RBI’s in his last four games.
On the mound, the Brewers’ 4.00 team ERA since the All-Star Game is seventh in the NL and they have recorded the fourth most strikeouts (Washington is second in the NL). Their rotation, however, has the third highest ERA in the NL, ahead of only the Rockies and Phiillies. Tonight’s starter, Jimmy Nelson, leads the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. As for the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez has been perfect this season as he has converted all 30 of his save chances and has held opponents to a .186 batting average over his last 13 appearances.
Before the series gets underway, let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups:
Next: Tonight's Matchup