The Washington Nationals (54-53) start a four game series at home with the Cincinnati Reds (48-60). Washington is five games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the National League East.
Game 1: Scherzer V. Mahle (8/2)
Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer takes the mound against Tyler Mahle in a must-win series for the Nationals. With two months to go in the season, it is now or never for the Nationals to overtake the Phillies.
Having Scherzer pitch game one is a good start. Scherzer is looking to pick up where he left off after throwing eight shutout innings against the Marlins. Luckily for the Reds, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto have great career numbers against the Nationals ace. Both Gennet and Votto are hitting .308 versus Scherzer. This will be Tyler Mahle’s first time facing the Nationals.
Game 2: Gonzalez V. DeSclafani (8/3)
On May 28, Gio Gonzalez won his last game and has gone 0-5 with five no-decisions since. To make matters worst for Gio, the Reds are hitting .280 against him. Like most pitchers, he has failed to find a way to beat Joey Votto. Votto is hitting .375 with three home runs against Gio.
Anthony DeSclafani will be facing most of this Nationals’ lineup for the first time. A key match-up to watch in this game will be DeSclafani versus Daniel Murphy. Murphy is hitting .500 with one homer and five RBI’s against him. It will be up to Murphy to continue his success against DeSclafani if the Nationals want to win this game.
Game 3: Hellickson V. Harvey (8/4)
The Dark Knight, Matt Harvey, will be facing his former division rival for the first time since being traded to Cincinnati. Harvey has mixed results when facing the Nationals. Like DeSclafani, Harvey has struggled against his former teammate Daniel Murphy. Since joining the Nationals, Murphy is hitting .400 with two home runs and four RBIs in ten at-bats against Harvey. In Harvey’s last start against the Nationals, he gave up four runs but still came out with the win. He will have to be close to his pre World Series form if he wants to beat Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson has been impressive since joining the Nationals rotation and has gone 4-2 with a 3.59 era. Votto is 0-12 with five strikeouts against the Righty. If Votto can’t find the answer for Hellickson, it might be a long night for the Reds.
Game 4: Roark V. Castillo (8/5)
Tanner Roark has been struggling all season but in his last two starts, he is 2-0 with a .60 era and 18 strikeouts. Roark has been known for always having a very stellar second half. He looks to continue his recent streak against a Reds team that is hitting .311 against him.
In a small sample size, Luis Castillo has struggled against the Nationals. The team is hitting .271 against him in 48 at-bats. A key match-up to pay attention to is Castillo vs. Bryce Harper. The former MVP is hitting .167 with a strikeout in six at-bats against the Righty. Harper will need to break out of his season-long slump to give the Nationals a chance of beating Castillo.
Feature Image from ESPN