Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats Vs. Marlins (8/28-8/30)

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Hand (4-3, 4.23) vs. Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.14) – 1:35 PM ET, MASN

While Brad Hand has been mainly a reliever for Miami this year, he has risen to the challenge of starting this month. Over his last five starts, Hand is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA and has 21 strikeouts to five walks over his last 31 innings. During his last outing against the Pirates on Tuesday, Hand went eight innings, gave up two runs on nine hits, struck out five, and did not walk a batter.

The 25-year-old left-hander has four pitches that he likes to use in his arsenal. He has a fastball that averages 92 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), a slider, curveball, and changeup. When you consider Hand has given up no more than two earned runs in four of his last five starts, he has done enough to keep Miami in nearly every game that he pitches in.

Hand has made nine appearances (five starts) against the Nats and he is 0-5 in those games with a 7.71 ERA. Last season, he went 0-3 with a 7.85 in four starts vs. Washington. In a small sample size, Ryan Zimmerman is 6-for-8 with four doubles against him.

The Nationals will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound on Sunday afternoon and Strasburg has been the team’s best starter this month. In his last start against the Padres on Tuesday, the 27-year-old right-hander went six innings, gave up two runs on two hits, struck out seven, and walked one in the victory.

Over his last four starts, Strasburg is 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA and he has been able to keep command of his fastball. During this stretch, he has struck out 32 batters and walked three while holding opposing hitters to a .156 batting average. After that home run by Jedd Gyorko, Strasburg retired the final 15 batters he faced.

In two starts against the Marlins this year, Strasburg is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. Center fielder Marcell Ozuna (.250, 6 HR, 29 RBI’s) is 7-for-17 against him with a home run and five RBI’s against him.

Advantage: While Hand has pitched well in the Marlins’ rotation, the fact that the Nationals have been able to hit the ball well against him should help them in this game. Plus, it is hard to go against Strasburg with the way that he has pitched lately. Every game is critical for the Nats at this point in the season and to have your three best starters in this weekend’s series should lead to a sweep.

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