The Washington Nationals begin a three game series tonight at Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds
To start off this nine game road trip, the Washington Nationals (33-21) swept the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Even though Bryce Harper missed the last two games after being hit in the knee with a pitch by Jeremy Hellickson, the Nats outscored the Phillies 12-3 in those games and 16-6 in the series.
As they head into the weekend, there is a buzz around the Nats as the team officially called up shortstop Trea Turner to the big leagues as first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was officially put on the paternity list.
The Nats will continue their road trip tonight at Great American Ball Park against the Cincinnati Reds (19-35), a team that is currently looking to rebuild for the future. Bryan Price’s team comes into this series having won three out of four against the Rockies at Coors Field in their last series. But, the Reds are in last in the NL Centrai, trailing the Cubs by 19 games.
On offense, the Reds are tied with the Cubs for the fifth most home runs in the National League. Even though the Reds traded Todd Frazier this winter, their offense still has right fielder Jay Bruce (36 RBI’s), first baseman Joey Votto (.342 on-base percentage), and second baseman Brandon Phillips (.254, six home runs, 23 RBI’s).
However, the surprise on this offense is 27-year-old left fielder Adam Duvall. Duvall, who was acquired in the Mike Leake trade from the Giants last July, has 14 home runs and a .586 slugging percentage this season. Plus, shortstop Zack Cosart leads the team in hitting with a .306 batting average.
The problem for the Reds has been their pitching. This season, their starters have a 5.08 and have won only 11 games (second fewest in the NL). It is a team that has four starters on the disabled list, including Homer Bailey (Tommy John surgery) and Raisel Iglesias. During the month of May, only one starter had an ERA lower than four (Dan Straily).
While the rotation has had its struggles, so has the bullpen. Cincinnati’s relievers have the worst ERA in the National League (6.62) and they have given up 42 home runs. That is 14 more than any other team in the NL (Brewers – 28). Plus, they have eight relievers that have given up at least three home runs this season. Their closer is Tony Cingrani, who has four saves in six chances.
Coming into this series, the biggest storyline might just be the return of Dusty Baker to Cincinnati. Baker’s last managerial stop in DC was in Cincinnati, where he had a .524 winning percentage in six seasons and won two NL Central titles.
Before this series starts tonight, check out my breakdown of the three pitching matchups:
Next: Tonight's Matchup