Washington Nationals at Phillies Series Preview (5/30-6/1)
The Washington Nationals begin a ten game road trip tonight at Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies
This past weekend, the Washington Nationals (30-21) were able to split a four game series at home against the Cardinals. Despite bad pitching performances from Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez, the Nats were able to hit the long ball in this series. In the four games, the team had nine home runs. That was capped off in yesterday’s game by a pinch-hit grand slam from Jayson Werth.
On this Memorial Day, the Nats are 1/2 game ahead of the Mets in the NL East after New York won their game this afternoon against the White Sox. Tonight, the Nats begin a three game series at Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies (26-24), who enter tonight in a tie for third place in the NL East with the Marlins (3.5 games back).
This month, Pete Mackanin’s team is 12-14 in May and they are 3-7 in their last ten games. However, they have been excellent in one-run games this season (14-4). Philadelphia is 4-2 against Washington this season, including a three-game sweep of the Nats at Nats Park back on April 26-28. While Bryce Harper has not had his best month, he has two home runs in his last four games and is 7-for-11 in four games at Citizens Bank Park with three home runs and six RBI’s this season.
This month, the Phillies have scored the fewest runs of any team in the National League (80). Despite the lack of runs, center fielder Odubel Herrera (.320, five home runs, 17 RBI’s) is hitting .327 this month with three home runs and eight RBI’s. But, the best hitter on the team is still third baseman Maikel Franco (.253, eight home runs, 28 RBI’s). Franco has hit three home runs and driven in 14 runs this month.
On the mound, the Phillies’ starters have a 3.96 ERA this year (seventh in the NL) and the fifth most strikeouts (Nats lead the NL with 332). The rotation has struggled a little bit in May with Aaron Nola (Tuesday’s starter) having the only ERA below three this month on the staff (3-1, 2.18 ERA in five starts).
The surprise of this Phillies’ team has been the late-inning duo of Hector Neris and closer Jeanmar Gomez. Neris has a 1.29 ERA in 26 games, has 37 strikeouts to just seven walks, and he has a 0.98 ERA in the eighth inning this season. As for Gomez, he leads the National League in saves with 17 in 18 chances.
Before the series gets underway tonight, here is my breakdown of the three pitching matchups:
Next: Tonight's Matchup