Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in second half start against Reds

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Tonight, the Washington Nationals begin the second half of the season in Ohio against the Cincinnati Reds. Here are our 5 players to watch in this 4-game series

After a long All-Star break, the Washington Nationals (52-36) resume the season tonight. Before the break, they split their four game series with the Atlanta Braves to keep their lead at 9.5 games in the National League East.

Despite that large lead, the Nats still have many questions. For one, what is the status of Joe Ross, who had to undergo a MRI on his triceps after Sunday’s outing? Plus, Stephen Strasburg only went three innings and didn’t strike anyone out on Saturday.

Starting tonight, the Nats will be on the road for the first nine games out of the break. Their first stop is at Great American Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds (39-49). Last month, the Nats won two of the three games these teams played at Nats Park (June 23-June 25).

The Reds are in last place in the NL Central (9.5 games behind the Brewers), but they did end the first half winning eight of their last 13 games against the Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Rockies.

When you watch the Reds, the offense is the story. They are tied with the Washington Nationals for the fourth most home runs hit in the National League (125). First baseman Joey Votto had a great first half (.315, 26 home runs, 68 RBI’s) and he is one of four Reds with 15 or more home runs.

While the offense has had success, the starting pitching hasn’t been very good. Their starters have a combined ERA of 5.91 (worst in the NL) and they have given up the most home runs (103). So, the offense is good, but they have to win a lot of shootouts because of the rotation.

Here are the pitching matchups for this series:

Tonight: Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 2.86 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (5-6, 4.71) – 7:10 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN2

Tomorrow: Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.10) vs. Luis Castillo (1-1, 3.13) – 7:10 p.m, MASN2

Sunday: Tanner Roark (6-6, 5.27) vs. Homer Bailey (2-2, 8.31) – 1:10 p.m, MASN

Monday: Stephen Strasburg (9-3, 3.43) vs. Scott Feldman (7-6, 3.94) – 12:35 p.m, MASN/MLB Network

Now, let’s look at our players to watch, starting with Cincinnati’s shortstop that has a donkey coming to him in the near future.