Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Series Preview (5/5-5/8)
By Ricky Keeler
This weekend, the Washington Nationals will be at Wrigley Field to take on the team with the best record in baseball
The Washington Nationals (19-8) continued their success on the road this week as they took two out of three from the defending champs, the Kansas City Royals. While Jonathan Papelbon blew the save on Tuesday that could’ve gave the Nats a sweep, they are still 5-1 on the road trip so far.
The story of this series for the Nats was their offense. In the three game series, they scored 21 runs with a season-high 13 runs coming in Wednesday’s win (nine of those runs came in the first inning).Now, the Nats are finishing up their ten game road trip with a four game series at Wrigley Field against the team who currently has the best record in baseball, the Chicago Cubs (20-6).
Right now, Joe Maddon’s squad has the best offense in the Major Leagues. They lead the league in runs scored (159) and walks scored and are second in on-base percentage. Due to their sweep of the Pirates and winning seven of their last eight games, the Cubs have a six game lead on Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Their leader on the team in home runs is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has nine home runs, 27 RBI’s (leads the National League). Even though they have had injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward (might play in this series), they continue to get production from their outfield. Dexter Fowler is hitting .348 with three home runs, 15 RBI’s, and a .570 on-base percentage.
On the mound, the Cubs are tied with the Washington Nationals for the lowest starters’ ERA in the game (2.19). They are led by their ace, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta (Sunday’s starter).
In the bullpen, the Cubs’ relievers have the best ERA in the NL at 2.66 (Nats are second at 2.69). While Hector Rondon only has four saves in four chances, they have six relievers with an opponents’ batting average of under .200. This includes Adam Warren (2-0, 1.72 ERA in nine games), who they got in the Starlin Castro trade this winter.
With that being said, here is my breakdown on the four pitching matchups:
Next: Tonight's Matchup