Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in visit to San Francisco

Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals begin a nine game West Coast trip today against the San Francisco Giants. Here are our five players to watch in this series

Thanks to great pitching performances by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg this past weekend, the Washington Nationals (30-19) were able to take two of three from the San Diego Padres to end their homestand with a 4-2 record. Scherzer and Strasburg combined to strike out 28 Padres in 15.2 innings.

On offense, the Nats had their issues with men in scoring position as they went 3-for-28 in the entire series. Despite those struggles in those situations, Michael Taylor had a pair of home runs while driving in four runs and Bryce Harper had a mammoth home run on Friday.

Now, the Nats are out west as they begin a nine game road trip today. First up on this road trip is the San Francisco Giants (22-30). Bruce Bochy’s team comes into this series having lost five of their last eight games and they are 11 games behind the Rockies in the NL West.

It’s been a rough month of May for the Giants offense. They have scored 92 runs, which are the second fewest of any team in baseball. San Francisco has also struggled to hit home runs this year. While Brandon Belt leads the team with ten, the team as a whole has the second fewest in the league (42)

When you look at the starting rotation, it’s clear San Francisco misses Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has been out since April 19 after he suffered an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder during a dirt bike accident. Without him, only one pitcher on the staff has more than three wins (Johnny Cueto has five).

Of course, the Nats will see their closer from the second half last year in the opposing dugout as Mark Melancon is closing games for the Giants. He has ten saves in 12 chances this season. One other reliever to watch is Hunter Strickland, who has a 1.06 ERA in 20 outings this year.

Before we look at the players to watch, here are the pitching matchups for this series:

Today: Tanner Roark (4-2, 4.32 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (2-5, 5.28) – 4:05 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN2/ESPN

Tomorrow: Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.90) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-6, 4.50) – 10:15 p.m, MASN2/ESPN

Wednesday: Max Scherzer (5-3, 2.77) vs. Matt Cain (3-3, 4.45) – 10:15 p.m, MASN2

Let’s start our five players to watch with a look at a third baseman who hasn’t performed the best away from home: