Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Series Preview (5/5-5/8)
Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15) vs. Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24) – 4:05 p.m, MASN/ FOX Sports 1
Even though Scherzer is the ace of the Nats, Gio Gonzalez is pitching like the left-hander who won 21 games back in 2012. Even though the Royals worked up his pitch count early on Monday, Gonzalez found a way out of trouble and put up a good outing. He went six innings, gave up no runs on four hits, struck out one, and walked two on 102 pitches.
In five starts, Gonzalez is second in the NL in ERA (1.15) behind only Arrieta. In addition, his opponents’ batting average of .195 is the lowest in the Washington Nationals’ rotation and is tenth in the NL.
Against the Cubs in his career, the left-hander is 3-2 in seven starts with a 2.47 ERA. Jason Heyward is 7-for-31 (.226) against him with four RBI’s.
As for Hammel, he goes under the radar in this rotation behind Arrieta, Lester, and Lackey, but he is putting up some excellent numbers. Right now, he is third in the NL in ERA (1.24) behind only Gonzalez and Hammel. Plus, he has given up two runs or fewer in all five of his outings.
Against the Pirates on Monday, Hammel went five innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out three, and walked one in the win. So far, the 33-year-old has done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark. He has given up only one home run in five outings and that came in his last start against Pittsburgh.
Hammel has dominated the Nationals in his career. In 11 starts with the Orioles and Cubs, he is 9-0 with a 3.01 ERA. Ryan Zimmerman is 11-for-35 (.314) with one home run and five RBI’s against Hammel.
Prediction: Even though I was wrong for picking against Gonzalez in his last start and I do think he will do a good job against Chicago on Saturday, it’s tough to ignore the trend and not pick Hammel in this one. Streaks are meant to be broken, but I will take Hammel to keep his unbeaten streak going against the Nats.
Next: Sunday's Matchup