Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats At Braves (9/29-10/1)

3 of 4

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Zimmermann (13-9, 3.68) vs. Williams Perez (6-6, 5.04) – 7:10 PM ET, MASN

In what was likely his final home start as a member of the Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann once again ran into issues with giving up the home run. While one of the home runs he gave up to the Phillies was an inside-the-park grand slam on September 25, it still didn’t change the stat line. He went five innings, gave up six runs on six hits, struck out six batters, and walked two.

With this being Zimmermann’s final start of the 2015 season in all likelihood, he is 4.1 innings away from throwing 200 innings for the second time in his career, but he has also given up a career-high 24 home runs. In 14 starts since the All-Star Break, Zimmermann has given up 16 home runs. But, he has given up two runs or fewer in four of his last six starts.

Against the Braves this season, the 29-year-old right-hander has been excellent, going 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five outings. He is 3-0 in his career at Turner Field with a 1.86 ERA (four starts). Nick Markakis is 9-for-27 against Zimmermann with one home run in his career.

Perez is another one of the Braves pitchers that made his Major League debut this season (May 8 against the Nats). After giving up eight runs against the Yankees on August 28, the 24-year-old right-hander has given up 12 total runs in his last five outings. Against the Mets on September 23, Perez went six innings, gave up two runs on seven hits, struck out two, and walked one in a no-decision.

Despite Perez’s recent success, his arsenal of pitchers has not fooled opposing hitters too often. Since the All-Star Break, teams are hitting .328 against Perez and he has a 6.82 ERA in his last 11 starts. Plus, this season, he has 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

Against the Nats on May 8, Perez came out of the bullpen and gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning. Bryce Harper, who is hitting .426 with six home runs and 15 RBI’s against Atlanta this season, hit a three-run homer against him in that game.

Advantage: Even though Zimmermann’s home finale did not go as planned, I would expect the veteran will want to make his possible last start in a Nats uniform count. Perez’s stuff is very hittable and I would expect Harper to have a big game in this one. Nationals get the win in convincing fashion.

Next: Thursday's Matchup