Washington Nationals at Diamondbacks Preview (8/1-8/3)
Max Scherzer (11-6, 2.85 ERA) vs. Zack Godley (3-1, 5.63 ERA) 3:40 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN2
Scherzer has been prone to the long ball as he leads the National League in homers given up at 22 but has the most strikeouts in the Senior Circuit at 187.
He was superb in his last start against the Giants, surrendering one run on five hits in seven innings. It was the sixth consecutive start that the Washington Nationals right-hander gave up two runs or fewer, and five times in this period he has tossed at least seven innings.
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There are just four starts this season that he has allowed four or more runs. Scherzer is holding teams to a .193 average, and right-handed batters are hitting .156. The right-hander is reliable on the road, as indicated by his 2.92 ERA in 13 road starts. He is excellent with runners in scoring position, by holding the opposition to a .190 average in this situation.
The key for Scherzer is to have a clean opening inning. It’s the one area he has struggled, as his ERA in the first inning is 4.91.
Scherzer has a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. He has a 3.88 ERA in 24 career games (20 starts) at Chase, as he did spend his first two seasons in the Majors with the Diamondbacks. Owings is 3-for-6 against him with two RBI’s.
As for Godley, he has walked 12 batters, yielded three home runs and his WHIP is 1.50 in 32 innings. The right-hander has pitched well in limited action this year. In three of his five starts, he has allowed three runs or less. He has thrown at least five innings in every outing but has yet to surpass 91 pitches in any of those starts.
The opposition has a .279 average against Godley, but right-handed batters are hitting a paltry .240. In three starts at Chase, Godley has compiled a 4.86 ERA.
The one aspect he needs to improve on is pitching better with runners in scoring position, as other teams have a .324 average and .931 OPS in this situation. A major concern for him is that in the third inning alone, his ERA is a blistering 14.40.
In his only career start against the Washington Nationals, Godley tossed six scoreless innings (August 3, 2015 at Nats Park).
Prediction: I expect Scherzer to have an outstanding game against his former team, and the Washington Nationals will knock Godley out of the game early to force the bullpen to come in. This will result in another loss for the Diamondbacks, and a series win for the Washington Nationals.