Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Orioles (9/21-9/23)

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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ubaldo Jimenez (11-9, 4.31 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.83) – 7:05 PM ET, broadcast on MASN

While Jimenez has the most wins of any Orioles’ pitcher in the starting rotation, it has been a rough second half for the 31-year-old right-hander Jimenez is 4-5 with a 6.58 ERA in his last 12 starts with opponents hitting .282 against him over that span.

In his last start against the Red Sox on September 15, he went five innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out four batters, and walked three in a no-decision. The problem for Jimenez this season has been his command. He has 59 walks, which is tenth in the American League. That being said, it’s an improvement after walking 77+ batters in each of his last two seasons.

In seven career starts against the Nats, Jimenez is 5-1 with a 2.61 ERA, but he has not faced Washington since 2011, when he was with the Rockies. Yunel Escobar is 8-for-21 against him with one double, one home run and two RBI’s.

With the success of the Nats’ top three starters over the weekend, it is up to Gio Gonzalez to keep that momentum. In his last outing against the Phillies on September 16, Gonzalez went seven innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out 12 batters (a career-high), and walked two in a win.

Gonzalez, who is not known for being a strikeout pitcher, has put up double-digit strikeout totals in two of his last three starts. Now, he does have 62 walks this season, but the left-hander hasn’t lost a game in his last four starts. In his last three starts, he has a 1.47 ERA.

Back on July 10, Gonzalez went six innings, gave up one run on six hits, struck out five, and walked three against the O’s in a no-decision. He is 1-4 against Baltimore in eight starts with a 3.51 ERA and he hasn’t beaten Baltimore since 2009. Catcher Matt Wieters (.247, 6 HR, 19 RBI’s) is 10-for-17 with a double, a home run, and four RBI’s against Gonzalez.

Advantage: This game is going to come down to which lineup takes advantage of the free passes given up by the opposing pitchers. To me, this comes down to the long ball, something Jimenez has given up 13 times this season on the road (4.88 ERA). The Nats offense comes into this series with confidence and I expect them to come out with the win tonight.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup