Washington Nationals: 3 storylines to watch as Angels visit Nats Park

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ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 04: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates his run with Mike Trout #27 and Albert Pujols #5, to trail 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics, during the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 4, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 04: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates his run with Mike Trout #27 and Albert Pujols #5, to trail 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics, during the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 4, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

This week, the Washington Nationals will host the Los Angeles Angels for a brief 2-game series. Here are 3 storylines to keep an eye on

It was a rough weekend for the Washington Nationals (70-46) against the San Francisco Giants. They had to play essentially three games in 24 hours due to a rainout on Friday and Bryce Harper got hurt in Saturday’s late game. Harper is now on the disabled list with a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise, but it could’ve been much worse.

Despite Harper being out, the Nats are still in great position in both the NL East and in the race to get home field advantage in the first round against whoever wins the NL Central. After the day off yesterday, the Nats will begin a two game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (61-58) tonight at Nats Park.

Last month, these two teams split a mini two game series out in California when the Nats were debuting 2/3 of their new bullpen trio (Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson). Since that series, the Angels have gone 14-8 in their last 22 games (six straight wins) and would be the second wild card in the American League if the season ended today.

Of course, this series loses the Harper-Mike Trout storyline. While Harper is out of the lineup for the Nats, Trout is in his usual MVP form. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .347 with seven home runs, 19 RBI’s, and has an on-base percentage of .480

While Trout makes a big impact to the Angels, other players have helped the offense in a big way. First baseman C.J. Cron and shortstop Andrelton Simmons are both hitting over .340 since the break. Those three players have carried the Angels considering they are the only three that have driven in ten or more runs.

As for the rotation, the Angels have dealt with their fair share of injuries, but a name to watch down the stretch who won’t pitch this week is Parker Bridwell. The former Oriole is 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last six starts.

In the bullpen, the Angels have had four different relievers record a save since the break, but their ‘pen hasn’t suffered for that. In addition, former Nationals long-man Yusmeiro Petit has 22 strikeouts to one walk in his last nine games. Right now, their closer is Cam Bedrosian, but his ERA is 6.55 over his last 12 outings.

Here are the two pitching matchups for this series:

Tonight: Tyler Skaggs (1-2, 3.63 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (10-5, 2.59) – 7:05 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN

Tomorrow: Ricky Nolasco (5-12, 5.24) vs. Tanner Roark (9-7, 4.74) – 1:05 p.m, MASN/MLB Network

Now, let’s get into the storylines and talk about a former Angel wearing a curly W uniform:

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