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

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Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.88) vs. Michael Wacha (15-4, 2.69) – 8:15 PM ET, ESPN/MASN2

This matchup on Wednesday night is a re-match of the game that took place on April 23, when Wacha beat Scherzer at Nats Park. First, let’s talk about Scherzer, who has not pitched well for the Nats as of late and he has to be happy that his month of August is over.

In his last start against the Marlins on August 28, Scherzer went seven innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out eight, and walked none while giving up two home runs in a loss. Scherzer has given up 13 runs in his last 16 innings and has not won a game since July 30 against Miami. This month, Scherzer went 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in five starts and gave up seven home runs (most in any month this season).

In three career starts against the Cardinals, Scherzer is 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA. Back on April 23, he went seven innings, gave up two runs on six hits, struck out four, and did not walk one in a loss. Brandon Moss, who was traded from Cleveland to St. Louis at the trade deadline, is 3-for-14 against Scherzer with a home run and three RBI’s.

As for Wacha, it was the defense that cost him a win in his last start against the Giants. Back on August 28, Wacha went six innings, gave up four runs (no earned runs) on six hits, struck out six, and walked two in a no-decision.

Despite not getting the win in that game, the 24-year-old right-hander has not lost a game since July 26 against the Atlanta Braves and has given up a total of four earned runs over his last six outings. Since the All-Star Break, Wacha is 5-1 in his last eight starts with a 2.16 ERA and has opponents to a .226 batting average. He is third in the NL in wins and has become the lead man in St. Louis with Wainwright out.

Wacha is 2-1 in three starts against Washington with a 0.79 ERA. He was able to beat Scherzer on April 23 when he gave up one run on five hits over seven innings of work. Bryce Harper is 2-for-9 against him with three strikeouts.

Advantage: If the Nationals are going to make that September playoff push, they need Max Scherzer to be the ace that he was in the first half of the season. Eventually, Scherzer will bounce back, but Wacha has been dominant for the Cardinals recently and I expect that to continue in this one. St. Louis gets the win and takes two out of three games in this series.

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