Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch as Giants visit DC

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 09: (L-R) Denard Span
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 09: (L-R) Denard Span /
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The Washington Nationals begin a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants tonight; here are five storylines to keep an eye on.

The Washington Nationals are coming off of a series win against the Miami Marlins. This series featured excellent starting pitching from the Nats’ three healthy regular starting pitchers, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.

Scherzer returned from a minor neck issue to pitch a seven-inning gem in game one, Gonzalez returned from paternity leave to twirl seven phenomenal innings in game three, and Roark continued his resurgence with six fantastic innings in game four. Scherzer, Gonzalez, and Roark all pitched very well, which allowed the Nats to win all three of their starts and win the series.

The Nats’ bullpen also pitched tremendously. In the Nats’ three wins, the bullpen combined for seven shutout innings. Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle have all been huge additions to the bullpen, transforming it from a glaring weakness to a strength.

Finally, the series featured one of the most dynamic individual offensive performances in team history. Ryan Zimmerman broke out of his mini-slump in game three, going 4-for-4 with two homers and finished a triple short of the cycle. To make his performance even more memorable, Zimmerman set the franchise record for RBI’s, passing Tim Wallach, who was across the field serving as Miami’s bench coach.

The San Francisco Giants, who are experiencing their usual odd-year struggles, have played better recently. They are coming off of a series win against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

Although the Giants are 35.5 games back in the NL West and 19.5 games back in the Wild Card race, they have won four of their last five series. However, the Nats swept the Giants when the two teams played in late May so the Nats have played well against them this season. Despite the fact that the Nats swept in May, it was an extremely competitive series. If this series is anything like their previous meeting, we are in for an entertaining weekend series.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five key storylines for what should be a competitive three-game set between two of the top franchises in the National League.