Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
When you look at Aaron Harang’s numbers, he is coming off a good outing against the Marlins in his last start. Back on September 22 against the Marlins, the 37-year-old right-hander went seven innings, gave up two runs on seven hits, struck out three, and walked two in a win. However, the right-hander has given up four runs or more in six of his last starts and two of his six wins this season are against Miami.
Over his last 10 starts, Harang is 2-4 with a 6.59 ERA and opponents have been hitting .317 against him. On the road, he is 3-7 with a 5.28 ERA, but he does have a win at Nats Park this season. His 15 losses are tied for second in the majors, one fewer than Shelby Miller of the Atlanta Braves. Against the Nationals this year, Harang is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three outings, but he hasn’t faced the Nats since June 26. Harper is 10-for-22 against him with a home run and two RBI’s.
Gio Gonzalez will be going up against Harang and he will try to rebound after the bad outing he had against the Orioles on September 22. In that game, Gonzalez went 4.2 innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out six, and walked two in the loss.
The key for Gonzalez going into this game is going to be whether or not he throws his fastball down in the zone to try to induce more groundball outs. Against the O’s, the Nats’ left-hander was only able to get hitters to hit into four groundouts. While the 30-year-old has struggled with his command this season, September has been a bad month for him as he has walked 11 batters in four starts. His high this season in any month was 12, back in June.
Against the Phillies this season, Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in three starts. Back on September 16, Gonzalez went seven innings, gave up two runs on five hits, and struck out a season high 12 batters in a win over Philadelphia. Darin Ruf (.232, 9 HR, 30 RBI’s) is 8-for-21 against Gonzalez in his career with three home runs and eight RBI’s.
Advantage: While Nats’ fans have to worry about the bullpen blowing one of the games in this series, this pitching matchup favors the Nats when you consider Harang has had a bad season. Gonzalez’s lack of command might cause him to give up more runs than usual, but I like the Nats to get the sweep in this series.