The Washington Nationals begin a nine game road trip tonight with a mini series against the Cleveland Indians
This past weekend, the Washington Nationals (59-41) lost two out of three games to the San Diego Padres. There were some good moments such as the Stephen Drew walk-off double on Saturday night. But, the series ended on a negative note when Shawn Kelley and Jonathan Papelbon gave up six runs in the final two innings of a 10-6 loss.
As the Washington Nationals start a nine game road trip today, they do get some reinforcements back. Ryan Zimmerman and Sammy Solis were officially activated off the disabled list today. Solis goes back into the bullpen and Zimmerman is at first base tonight, batting seventh.
The first stop on the Washington Nationals road trip is a two game series at Progressive Field against the Cleveland Indians (56-41). The Indians were swept in Baltimore over the weekend, but Terry Francona’s club still has a 5.5 game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
When you talk about the Indians, the conversation starts with their starting rotation. This season, their starters have a 3.65 ERA, which is the best in the American League and they have the most strikeouts in the AL (556). All five starters in the Indians rotation have an ERA under four.
On offense, Cleveland has scored the fourth most runs and the second most stolen bases in the AL. They have two 20+ home run hitters in first baseman Mike Napoli (.244, 22 home runs, 68 RBI’s), and designated hitter Carlos Santana (.285, 21 home runs, 54 RBI’s). Another player to watch on the Indians is 22-year-old shortstop Francisco Lindor. Lindor is hitting .303 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI’s, and 13 stolen bases. Plus, he has three multi-hit games in his last five.
Cleveland has had this success offensively without their long time center fielder Michael Brantley. Brantley has only played in 11 games this season and has been out since May 9 because of a shoulder injury.
If there is one big weakness the Indians have to address at the deadline, it would be the bullpen. Cleveland is tied for sixth in the AL in bullpen ERA (3.65) and their pen has thrown the second fewest innings in the AL. Closer Cody Allen is 19-for-21 in saves with a 2.55 ERA while setup man Bryan Shaw has a 4.35 ERA in 46 appearances.
Before this series starts tonight, check out my breakdown of the two pitching matchups:
Next: Tonight's Matchup