Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats at Phillies (9/14-9/16)

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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

To begin their six game road trip, the Washington Nationals (72-70) did lose two out of three games to the Miami Marlins. Plus, they still wait to see how Bryce Harper feels after leaving yesterday’s game due to colliding with Derek Dietrich in the first inning. While the Nats only scored seven runs in the series, they got a good performance from Max Scherzer yesterday as he threw eight shutout innings to get his first win since July 30. Another injury that was announced this past weekend was setup man Drew Storen will likely miss the rest of the year because of a broken thumb.

With 20 games left in the season, the Nats trail the Mets by 9.5 games in the NL East and their tragic number is now down to 11. To finish up their six game road trip, Matt Williams’ club heads down to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (56-88)for the first time in the second half of the season. Of course, there was major news in Philly this past week as Ruben Amaro Jr. was fired as general manager by the team’s president-in-waiting, Andy MacPhail.

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Since the All-Star Break, Pete Mackanin’s club is 27-26 and they are a much different team than the one the Nats faced in late June. Chase Utley is now playing for the Dodgers, Cole Hamels is now pitching in a pennant race for the Rangers, and Jonathan Papelbon will be in the visitor’s dugout after he was traded from Philly to the Nats before the trade deadline.

As far as the offense goes, the Phillies have scored 247 runs since the break, which is seventh in the NL and is two runs fewer than the Nats have scored. Ryan Howard (.228, 22 HR, 76 RBI’s) has seven home runs and 31 RBI’s in his last 46 games. Another player to watch is center fielder Odubel Herrera (.299, 8 HR, 40 RBI’s). This season, the 23-year-old center fielder is hitting .333 vs. Washington with five RBI’s.

On the mound, Philadelphia does not have an ace, but they have built up some promising arms in their minor league system. One guy who has made it to the big leagues is Aaron Nola. Nola, who will be starting tonight for the Phillies, is 6-2 with a 3.56 ERA in ten starts. In the bullpen, new closer Ken Giles is 13 for his last 14 in saves and has given up two earned runs in his last 22 games.

Let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup