Washington Nationals at Diamondbacks Preview (8/1-8/3)
After splitting with the Giants, the Washington Nationals begin a three-game series tonight against the Diamondbacks.
In the middle of their road trip, the Washington Nationals (61-44) picked up a split against the San Francisco Giants. The Nats were able to win the first two games in the series against the Giants as they scored eight runs, but in losing the final two, the offense could only score four runs.
Due to those two losses over the weekend, the Washington Nationals lead is down to four games over the Miami Marlins in the NL East, but they did upgrade their closer situation on Saturday when they acquired closer Mark Melancon in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tonight, the Washington Nationals conclude their nine road trip when they start a three-game series in the desert at Chase Field the Arizona Diamondbacks (43-62). It’s been a disappointing season for Arizona, who sit last in the National League West, 18 games behind the first place Giants.
The Diamondbacks have been hit hard by the injury bug in 2016. The team is missing outfielder A.J. Pollock (elbow surgery), catcher Chris Herrmann (hamstring), shortstop Nick Ahmed (hip), starting pitchers Rubby De La Rosa (elbow) and Zack Greinke (oblique).Shortstop Chris Owings (foot) and outfielder David Peralta (back) were activated off the DL over the weekend.
Despite the injuries, second baseman Jean Segura leads the club in hitting (.312 batting average) and stolen bases (17). America’s first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has found his stroke after struggling earlier in the year. Goldschmidt leads the team with 68 RBI and is tied for second with 17 home runs.
Third baseman Jake Lamb is having a breakout season at the plate. He leads the Senior Circuit with eight triples and is second with a .588 slugging percentage.Segura, Lamb, and Goldschmidt have been the bright spots for the Diamondbacks in 2016.
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Regarding starting pitching, Arizona has been dreadful. They’re 14th in the NL with a 4.94 ERA from the rotation. The only starter whose ERA which doesn’t begin with the number four or higher is Greinke. The Washington Nationals won’t see Shelby Miller, but in Miller’s case, that’s a positive. He has compiled a 7.14 ERA in 14 starts this year. He is trying to work on some things in Triple-A Reno and will probably be back in the rotation before the season is over.
The silver lining is that the team’s top pitching prospect in Braden Shipley earned his first career win in just his second start facing the Milwaukee Brewers.
If you thought the rotation was bad, the bullpen isn’t any better. The relief corps is 14th in the NL with a 4.90 ERA. The team already traded Brad Ziegler to the Boston Red Sox, who was their best reliever.
Daniel Hudson was a potential trade candidate, but he’s fallen off the deep end. He surrendered just three runs in his first 21 games but has yielded 25 runs over the past 23 games. The only reliever that’s performed well for them is Jake Barrett. He has a 2.79 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 13 walks issued in 38 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks have been one of the worst teams at home in the Majors, considering their 17-35 record at Chase Field. The only team with fewer wins at their home ballpark is the Atlanta Braves at 16-38.
Before this series starts tonight, check out my breakdowns of the three pitching matchups in this series:
Next: Tonight's Matchup