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

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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.32 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.56) – 7:05 PM ET, broadcast on MASN

In his last start against the Mets, Jordan Zimmermann looked like he was on his way to winning his fifth straight game, but the Nats bullpen couldn’t hold a 7-1 lead. Nevertheless, Zimmermann was able to hold a red hot Mets’ offense to one run on three hits over 5.2 innings. He struck out six batters and walked one on 100 pitches. Over his last 18.2 innings, the 29-year-old right-hander has struck out 15 batters and held the opposition to three combined runs.

When you look at Zimmermann’s 2015 season, he is already at 34 walks on the season. He is now nine walks away from tying his career-high for most walks in a season (43). One thing that has helped Zimmermann is his offense has given him a ton of run support in those last five outings (51 runs scored).

Against the Phillies, Zimmermann made one start this year back on April 18. He went 6.1 innings, gave up two runs on four hits, struck out three, and walked four in a loss. He is 6-7 with a 3.43 ERA in 14 career starts vs. Philadelphia. Domonic Brown (.228, 5 HR, 25 RBI’s) is 7-for-14 with three doubles and three RBI’s against Zimmermann.

Tonight, the Nats will face Aaron Nola for the first time. Nola was drafted by the Phillies with the seventh pick in the 2014 MLB Draft out of LSU. He made his debut in June for Philadelphia and he has shown some good signs. In his last start vs. the Braves on September 8, he went seven innings, gave up no runs on six hits, struck out seven, and walked one.

While the 22-year-old right-hander has only averaged 88 pitches per outing and has only thrown 100 pitches in a start once, he brings a good variety of pitches to the table. According to Fangraphs, Nola has an average velocity of 90 miles per hour on his fastball to go with his curveball and changeup. He has 15 walks in ten starts and four of those came in one start against the Blue Jays on August 18.

Advantage: Zimmermann has been on a roll lately, but the X-factor in this game is how the Nats adjust to a pitcher of Nola’s caliber. When opponents face him the third time though the order, they are only hitting .217. If that trend hold true, it could be tough for the Nats, who are without Ryan Zimmerman, to get many runs on the board. It will be a low scoring game, but the Phillies will take the series opener.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup