Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch in trip to Houston

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Tonight, the Washington Nationals begin a three game series against the Houston Astros in what could be a World Series preview. Here are 5 storylines to watch

Despite Ryan Madson and Max Scherzer both going on the disabled list this past weekend, the Washington Nationals (74-48) were able to win three out of four games against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. The offense scored 14 runs in the four games, with six of the 14 runs driven in by Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick.

With Scherzer scratched from his start against the Padres, Matt Grace and the bullpen gave up one run in the victory. Right now, the Nats are ahead of the Marlins by 14 games and their magic number to clinch the NL East is at 27.

The Washington Nationals will wrap up their seven game road trip this week as they will be at Minute Maid Park to take on the Houston Astros (76-48) in a three game Interleague series.

While the Nats probably won’t catch the Dodgers for home field in the NL Playoffs, if they have a better record than Houston, they would have home field in the World Series should those two teams meet.

For most of the year, the Astros have been the best team in the American League. But, in the second half of the year, A.J. Hinch’s club is 16-19. However, with a 12 game lead in the AL West, they are pretty much a postseason lock at this point.

Like the Nats, the Astros have had their fair share of injuries. On offense, shortstop Carlos Correa is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his thumb. However, despite Correa’s absence, the Astros still have one of the best offenses in the game with George Springer’s 28 home runs and Jose Altuve’s .362 average in the top two spots of the lineup.

When you look at the Astros, starting pitching is probably their weakest unit. Dallas Keuchel has pitched better lately since coming off the DL, but Lance McCullers Jr. is on the DL with a back issue. Charlie Morton has ten wins, but is that enough to get Houston to the World Series this year?

Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups in this series

Tonight: Tanner Roark (9-8, 4.70 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (10-5, 3.69) – 8:10 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN2

Tomorrow: Edwin Jackson (4-2, 3.43) vs. Mike Fiers (7-8, 4.32) – 8:10 p.m, MASN2

Thursday: Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.24) vs. Dallas Keuchel (11-2, 2.58) – 8:10 p.m, MASN2

Now, here are our five storylines for this series, starting with a player on the Astros that has played well at shortstop in Correa’s absence