Washington Nationals vs. Minnesota Twins Series Preview (4/22-4/24)

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Apr 21, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (7) hits a double in the fifth inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (7) hits a double in the fifth inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 19, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) pauses on the pitching mound during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 19, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) pauses on the pitching mound during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Ervin Santana (0-1, 3.15) vs. Stephen Strasburg (3-0, 1.25) – 1:35 p.m., MASN

So far, Santana has made four starts and the Twins have not won any of those games. However, the 33-year-old right-hander has gone five innings or more in each of his last three starts. His Opening Day outing against the Orioles was shortened to two innings because of rain.

Last season, Santana only pitched in 17 games because he was out the first 80 games of the year due to a PED suspension. He went 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA, but he ended the year going 4-1 in his final six outings, including a 1.75 ERA in the month of September when Minnesota was making a playoff push.

In eight starts against the Nats in his career, Santana is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA. Four of those starts came in 2014 when he was a member of the Atlanta Braves rotation. Ryan Zimmerman is 3-for-10 with one home run and two RBi’s against Santana.

In Strasburg’s last start, he was able to shut out the Marlins offense en route to his third straight win. He went eight innings, gave up three hits, struck out ten, and walked two on 105 pitches in the win.

Next: Recap: Offense Falls Flat As Nats Drop Series Finale

Strasburg has pitched into the eighth inning in each of his last two starts and continues to impress with the use of his slider. Plus, he has built off the strong momentum at the end of the season. Just like Roark, none of the Twins have ever faced Strasburg, which is an advantage for the Nats’ right-hander.

Prediction: With the Nats having familiarity with Santana from his time in Atlanta and Strasburg pitching great right now, it’s tough to not go with Strasburg in this one. I think he has another dominant outing and the Nationals take two out of three to begin the homestand.

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