Washington Nationals: 5 storylines for trip to San Diego

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 16: Ryan Zimmerman
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 16: Ryan Zimmerman /
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A seven-game road trip awaits the Washington Nationals starting in San Diego. What should you watch fr this weekend at Petco Park?

The Washington Nationals start their last west coast trip of the regular season with a four-game set against the San Diego Padres.

The Nats leave for California after a 6-3 homestand taking three of four from the Miami Marlins, two from the San Francisco Giants and a split with the Los Angeles Angels. At 71-43, their lead over the Marlins is 14 games. With 11 players on the disabled list, this is a truly remarkable season.

The same cannot be said for the Padres.

At 53-66, and 31.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego is playing out the string. Not as bad as the Giants, the Padres have no realistic chance of catching the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Wild Card race.

With a tease like that, you have plenty of incentive to stay up late and watch, right? No? Well, you should anyway.

Washington is 19-11 since the All-Star break. Michael Taylor is the first injured starter to return to the lineup. Stephen Strasburg comes off the disabled list to pitch Saturday night. As we move closer to September, those 11 injured players work their way back into the lineup with a bullpen that locks down games.

When these teams met in DC on Memorial Day weekend, the Nats took two of three including Strasburg’s 15 strikeout gem on Saturday and Max Scherzer’s near-complete masterpiece the night before.

The Padres are young and hungry, but Washington makes their lone visit with Scherzer, Strasburg and the white-hot Gio Gonzalez expected to make starts.

Here are five storylines to watch as you grab some coffee for late-night baseball.