Washington Nationals vs. Pirates Preview (7/15-7/17)
By Ricky Keeler
Francisco Liriano (5-8, 5.15 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (12-0, 2.62) – 7:05 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN/WUSA9
This is Liriano’s fourth season with the Pittsburgh Pirates and it has not been a great one, to say the least. In his last start before the break on July 8, Liriano went five innings, gave up one earned run on three hits, struck out three, and walked three in a no-decision.
Even though Liriano gave up only one earned run against a strong lineup, he has only two wins in his last ten starts. The problem for the 32-year-old left-hander has been the command of his pitches. He has a National League leading 58 walks and 20 in his last six games. Plus, he has a 6.80 ERA in eight road starts (3.67 in nine home starts).
Liriano is 2-2 with a 3.70 ERA in four career starts against the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper is 2-for-6 against him with a home run and two RBI’s.
While Strasburg did skip Tuesday’s All-Star Game, it is still good to see him be the one who starts the second half for the Washington Nationals. Against the Mets on July 8, Strasburg went seven innings, gave up one run on two hits, struck out nine, and walked three in a win over Noah Syndergaard.
During the first half, Strasburg put himself in the conversation as one of the favorites for the NL Cy Young. He has given up one run or fewer in three of his last six starts. Since coming off the disabled list, he has given up two hits in 13.2 innings and now has a batting average against of .201.
Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates, but he hasn’t faced them since 2014. Starling Marte is 3-for-9 against him with a home run and two RBI’s.
Prediction: Coming into this game tonight, I think Strasburg is the heavy favorite. If the Nats offense can stay patient against Liriano and take advantage of those walks, I think they will give Strasburg enough runs to get him his 13th win of the season.
Next: Tomorrow's Matchup