Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats at Cardinals (8/31-9/2)

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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Ross (5-5, 3.24) vs. Carlos Martinez (13-6, 2.91) – 8:15 PM ET, MASN2

With Tanner Roark getting a start in Harrisburg tonight, could tomorrow night’s game be the last time that Nats’ fans see Joe Ross start a game in 2015? After a rough West Coast trip, the 22-year-old rookie had two strong starts during the Nats’ nine game homestand. In those outings, he gave up a total of two runs in 13 innings.

Back on August 27, Ross went six innings, gave up one run (no earned runs) on one hit, struck out seven, and walked two on 77 pitches to get his second straight win. While Ross has been effective for the Nationals this season, his pitch count has not eclipsed 90 pitches in each of his last five outings. That could be a bad sign you go up against a Cardinals’ team that knows how to work the count and wait for their pitch to hit. While Ross has a 3.50 ERA in his last eight starts, he has held opponents’ to a .216 batting average.

When you look at Carlos Martinez, the 23-year-old brings some electric stuff to the mound, but he has gone through his own struggles as of late. The right-hander has given up three runs or more in five of his last six outings. In his last outing on July 27 against the Diamondbacks, Martinez went six innings, gave up three runs on four hits, struck out six, and walked two in the win.

According to Fangraphs, Martinez throws a fastball that averages 95 miles per hour to go with a slider, changeup, and an occasional curveball. His fastball is the sixth fastest on average in the game. That being said, he has a tendency to not control that pitch as he has walked 54 batters this year. After going 2-1 with a 2.03 ERA in five July starts, Martinez is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five starts this month.

Martinez has never had a start against the Nats, but he has a 7.36 ERA in four relief appearances against them. Anthony Rendon is 2-for-2 against him with a double and a RBI.

Advantage: While Martinez has had his fair share of struggles recently, the Cardinals are the kind of the team that could make Ross pay for throwing too many strikes over the plate. This could be a high-scoring game against two talented, young pitchers, but I like St. Louis to get the win in this game. Plus, it will be interesting to see how the 40-man rosters will effect this game since it’s the first game that team can have up to 40 players on the roster.

Next: Wednesday's Matchup