Washington Nationals at Reds Series Preview (6/3-6/5)

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May 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Duvall (23) hits an RBI double during the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Duvall (23) hits an RBI double during the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
May 28, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.57 ERA) vs. Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.14) – 7:10 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN2

Gonzalez had a great start to his season, but his last two starts have taken him three steps back. Against the Mets and the Cardinals, the left-hander has given up 13 earned runs over the course of 9.2 innings. In his start against the Cardinals on May 28, Gonzalez went 4.2 innings, gave up six runs on six hits, struck out six, and walked four in a loss.

Once again, the problem that Gonzalez had last year has been when he gets in a jam, he can’t get himself out of it. He gave up five runs in the first three innings against St. Louis in the loss. Despite having 16 first pitch strikes, only 59 of his 98 pitches ended up being strikes.

In six career starts against the Reds, Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA. Joey Votto is 5-for-12 (.417) against Gonzalez with two home runs and four RBI’s.

Finnegan was one of the pitchers that was dealt to Cincinnati when Johnny Cueto was traded to the Royals at last year’s trade deadline. The 23-year-old left-hander has not won a start since April 16 against the St. Louis Cardinals.  In his last start against the Brewers on May 29, Finnegan went 6.1 innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out four, and walked four in a loss.

The problem for Finnegan in his first full season as a starter has been his control. He has 31 walks this season (4+ walks in five of his 11 starts), which are the third most of any pitcher in the National League. But, his 63 innings are the most of any pitcher in the Reds’ rotation.

Finnegan started against the Nats last year in the makeup game on September 28. He went five innings, gave up three runs on eight hits, struck out three, and walked two in a loss to Max Scherzer. Wilson Ramos went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in that game.

Prediction: With Gonzalez’s recent struggles, I think this is the game that the Reds have the best chance to win. With that being said, I think the Nats offense does enough against Finnegan and takes advantage of his lack of control to get a win in the first game of the series.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup

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