Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch at Wrigley Field

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Washington Nationals are in Wrigley Field this weekend to take on the defending champion Chicago Cubs. Here are our 5 storylines to watch

It was a rough last couple of days for the Washington Nationals (63-43) in Miami. The offense had a six-run second inning on Tuesday, including a home run from Max Scherzer. However, Scherzer left that game in the bottom of the inning with neck spasms and the Nats haven’t scored a run since that point.

Despite losing two of three to the Marlins, the Nats still have a 12 game lead in the NL East with 56 to go and Gio Gonzalez gave everybody a great moment Monday night when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in one of the best outings of his career.

Today, the Washington Nationals are at Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs (57-50). Back in late June (June 26-29), these two teams split a four game series at Nats Park, but the Cubs are a much better team now as they currently lead the NL Central by 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Brewers.

If you go back to July 1, the Cubs are 17-10 and they have won 14 of their last 19 games since the All-Star break. They have scored the second most runs of any team in the NL during that span. The two big changes for the Cubs, however, have been pitching wise with the trades for starter Jose Quintana and reliever Justin Wilson.

As for the offense, Chicago has three players with ten or more RBI’s since the break and their RBI leader is catcher Willson Contreras (24). Also, first baseman Anthony Rizzo has six home runs in his last 18 games.

On the mound, the Cubs starting rotation of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Quintana are 10-3 over their last 14 games. The big difference has been Arrieta, who has a 2.05 ERA and has held the opposition to a .154 average over his last four games. If he’s back on point, then that makes their rotation tough to beat.

Right now, these two teams would meet in the NLDS if the season ended today and most think this will be the matchup two months from now. It would be a tough matchup for the Nats. However, to be the champ, you have to beat the champ.

Here are the pitching matchups for this weekend’s series:

Today: Tanner Roark (8-7, 4.93 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (4-3, 3.80) – 2:20 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN/MLB Network

Tomorrow: TBA vs. John Lackey (8-9, 4.87) – 2:20 p.m, MASN/MLB Network

Sunday: TBA vs. Jon Lester (8-6, 3.96) – 2:20 p.m, MASN/TBS

To start our five storylines, we look at one Washington Nationals player who needs to prove something to Joe Maddon.