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 Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Gio looking to have better outing against Halos

Tonight will be a battle of left-handers at Nats Park, but its two pitchers going in different directions. Skaggs was a first round pick for the Angels back in 2009, but he just came off the disabled list earlier this month.

Skaggs went on the disabled list in late April due to an oblique strain. He did pitch well in his last outing against the Mariners on August 10 when he went 6.1 innings, gave up five hits, struck out five, and walked three. The pitch count is something to watch since he hasn’t gone 85+ or more pitches since coming back.

Now, the one thing that could help Skaggs is this start is the Washington Nationals don’t have much familiarity with him. Daniel Murphy is the only Nats hitter with a hit against Skaggs. Plus, the Nats lineup did strike out ten times Sunday against a rookie pitcher on the Giants (Chris Stratton).

If there’s one pitch that Skaggs has had success with this season, it’s his breaking ball. According to Brooks Baseball, teams are hitting .184 against that pitch with only one extra-base hit and 19 strikeouts.

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As for Gonzalez, he has given up three runs combined over his last three starts (22 innings). Over that stretch of time, he has 19 strikeouts to only four walks and he is now fifth in the National League in innings pitched for the entire season (149.1).

Gonzalez hasn’t had many bad starts this year, but he did struggle against the Angels on July 19. He went 5.2 innings, gave up four runs on five hits, struck out three, and walked three on 107 pitches in a loss.

It’s nearly a given Gonzalez will throw 100 pitches in the mound. He has thrown 100 pitches or more in every game since May 25 against the Seattle Mariners. The Nats’ left-hander has a 1.75 ERA in his last five starts with opponents hitting .175. Yes, the Angels start is included in that small sample size.

Down the stretch, Gonzalez can further his chances to get a Game 2 playoff start if his home success continues. At Nationals Park this season, he is 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 starts as opposed to a 3.15 ERA in 12 road starts.

Gonzalez looks like he has the edge in this game, but that’s why they play the games. Plus, with a day off for both teams, the bullpens should be well rested.

Next: Takeaways from Harper scare

What are your storylines to watch in this two game series between the Angels and the Nationals? Let us know in the comments section below.

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