Washington Nationals vs. Cubs Series Preview (6/13-6/15)

Jun 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) commits a throwing error against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Turner Field. The Cubs defeated the Braves 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) commits a throwing error against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Turner Field. The Cubs defeated the Braves 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Jun 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (28) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

 Kyle Hendricks (4-5, 2.90 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (7-4, 3.57) – 7:05 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN/ESPN

One of the pitchers that are getting overlooked in the Cubs rotation is Kyle Hendricks. Even though he lost against the Phillies in his last start, he had a good outing. In five innings, he gave up two runs on four hits, struck out six, and walked two.

Even though the 26-year-old went 2-2 in the month of May, he had a 2.23 ERA and held opponents to a .183 batting average. He has given up more than three earned runs in two of his last ten starts. His WHIP of 0.894 is the third lowest in the National League, behind only his teammate John Lackey (0.93) and Clayton Kershaw (0.65).

Against the Washington Nationals, Hendricks is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts. Back on May 5, he held the Nats to just two hits over six innings in a win. Bryce Harper is 2-for-7 (.286) with a solo home run against him in his career.

In his last start against the White Sox, Scherzer was able to pitch great after the offense gave him some early run support. He went seven innings, gave up no runs on five hits, struck out six, and walked one in the win.

Scherzer has won back-to-back starts for only the second time this season and he has given up two runs over his last 15 innings. Even though he continues to give the Nats length in games (88.1 innings pitched this year), the stat that will be in the spotlight tonight is the home runs.

Against the White Sox, Scherzer did not give up a home run for the first time since May 1. Tonight, he faces an opponent that he struggled mightily the last time he faced them. Back on May 6 at Wrigley Field, Scherzer gave up seven runs on seven hits in five innings, including four home runs in a loss to the Cubs.

Scherzer is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs. Ben Zobrist is 5-for-22 (.227) with three home runs and six RBI’s against him.

Prediction: While I expect Scherzer to pitch better than that last Cubs start and the Washington Nationals have played better offensively, they haven’t been able to have success against Hendricks (three earned runs in 18 innings). If that trend holds, I like the Cubs to win the opener tonight.