Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Padres (8/25-8/27)

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the first game of their series to the Milwaukee Brewers 10-3, the Washington Nationals (62-61) bounced back to win the final two games of the series with Milwaukee by a combined score of 13-4. The star of the series was Anthony Rendon. Rendon, who had to play third base because of the injury to Yunel Escobar Friday, has hit home runs in back-to-back games.

Tonight, the Nats will get another key member of their offense back in the lineup. Center fielder Denard Span, who has been out since July 6 due to a back injury, is in the starting lineup tonight and will be batting leadoff:

While the Nats have won consecutive series, they have not been able to gain ground against a Mets team that has won four straight games and New York leads the Nats by 5.5 games with 39 to play. While winning series is nice, the Nationals will need to start sweeping series at some point to stay in the race. Will that start tonight against the San Diego Padres (61-63), who Washington took three of four from back in May at PETCO Park?

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It’s been a disappointing year for the Padres after all the moves General Manager A.J. Preller made during the winter, San Diego has played well as of late. Despite changing managers from Bud Black to Pat Murphy earlier this season, San Diego has won seven of their last ten games. Preller decided to keep most of the team in tact at the trade deadline in order to make one last push for the postseason, but the Padres are fourth in the NL West and 6.5 games behind the Dodgers coming into tonight’s game.

On offense, the two players to talk about in this San Diego lineup are right fielder Matt Kemp and left fielder Justin Upton. Kemp (.267, 15 HR, 76 RBI’s) heads into Nats Park on a 15-game hitting streak and is hitting .329 this month with four home runs and 20 RBI’s. As for Upton (.258, 20 HR, 67 RBI’s), he is hitting .306 this month with two home runs and 11 RBI’s.

When you look at San Diego’s pitching, their team ERA of 3.80 is fifth in the National League. The leader in their rotation in wins since the break is Ian Kennedy. Kennedy, who won’t be pitching in this series, is 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts. As for the bullpen, the Padres’ relievers’ ERA of 3.82 is the fourth highest ERA in the NL, even though closer Craig Kimbrel is 35-for-37 in saves this year.

Before this series gets underway, let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup