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Series Preview #43, @ Washington Nationals

Things ramp up as Arizona closes out its ten game road trip against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.

Rob Foldy

What's New?

Following Wednesday's hectic extra-inning doubleheader in Cleveland (which Arizona split), the Diamondbacks traveled east and stumbled in losing three of four against the Marlins. Miami took Arizona to extras for the second day in a row on Thursday and picked up a 5-4 win on Marcell Ozuna's walk-off double in the tenth inning. On Friday, both teams were held scoreless after the first inning as Arizona's early outburst was all it needed for the 3-2 win. The Diamondbacks defense slipped on Saturday with a season-high five errors, likely costing them the game in a 2-1 loss. Mike Stanton powered Miami to victory and the series win on Sunday, going two for four with a home run and four RBI. Arizona is now 53-71 on the season, 16 games behind Los Angeles for first place in the NL West. They are 5.5 games behind the Padres for third place.

Arizona's offense took a bit of a hit in South Florida, falling to 25th in the majors in wRC+ (88) while posting the 23rd-ranked offensive WAR (10.8) and batting .252/.306/.386 with a .305 wOBA. They actually are one of the better teams in baseball at running the base paths, posting the 11th-ranked BsR in baseball (1.2). The pitching staff has continued to struggle, posting the 25th-ranked team ERA (4.22) with a 3.91 FIP (21st) and a pitching WAR of 7.2 (26th). They're the second-worst staff in baseball once the ball is put in play, yielding a .310 BABIP.

Washington has found success with an average offense, as it ranks 15th in wRC+ (97) and has the ninth-ranked offensive WAR in baseball (17.2) while batting .250/.318/.386 with a .312 wOBA. They struggle with strikeouts, getting punched out at the eighth-highest rate in the majors (21.2%). They have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, posting the second-ranked team ERA (3.08) and the top-ranked FIP (3.12) in baseball with a pitching WAR of 17.3 (1st). They simply do not give up the long ball, as they surrender just 0.64 per nine innings, the lowest rate in the majors.

The Nationals come into the series having won six in a row and sweeping series against the Mets and Pirates. They are continuing what is a ten-game home stand that wraps up with a three-game set against the Giants. They have won eight of their last ten overall, and are 37-24 at home this season. They are 69-53 overall, with a six game lead over Atlanta for first place in the NL East.

On The Mend

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth was held out of the lineup Sunday against Pittsburgh with a shoulder injury. He is officially listed as day-to-day.

Roster Moves

On Friday, the Diamondbacks traded right hander Blake Cooper to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Brett Jackson. The team then optioned Jackson to Triple-A Reno.

THIS is a Staff

Arizona fans haven't been treated to much great pitching, so let's go through one of the best pitching staffs in the majors this season:

- All starters but one have an ERA under four, and all but two have one under three.

- Closer Rafael Soriano has done his part, saving 29 games in 34 opportunities and posting a 2.59 ERA

- Only three players on the entire pitching staff have an ERA over four.

- They have the fifth-most shutouts in baseball, and have put together 73 quality starts.

- Their front three of Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermann is one of the best in the majors.

And this,

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Monday 4:05 PT: LHP Vidal Nuno (2-8, 4.92 ERA, 4.75 FIP) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 2.92 ERA, 2.66 FIP)

Nuno almost had another quality start in his last outing against the Indians, giving up two earned runs over 5.2 innings while picking up the no-decision. He is facing Washington for the first time this season. Zimmerman is coming off of yet another solid start, giving up just an unearned run over 6.1 innings and picking up the win against the Mets. He's given up three earned runs or less in each of his last four starts.

Game 2, Tuesday 4:05 PT: RHP Chase Anderson (7-4, 3.16 ERA, 4.28 FIP) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-10, 3.53 ERA, 2.94 FIP)

Anderson has put together six quality starts in a row, including giving up three runs over six innings in a no decision against the Marlins. He has not picked up a loss in over a month, when he got shelled against the Pirates on July 2nd. Strasburg was lights-out the last time he was on the hill, giving up just an unearned run on three hits over seven innings against the Mets. It was a nice bounce back after getting smashed by the Braves for seven runs two starts ago.

Game 3, Wednesday 4:05 PT: RHP Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.68 ERA, 3.56 FIP) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.93 ERA, 3.44 FIP)

Cahill has pitched well lately, and has put together four straight quality starts. He gave up two runs on six hits over 6.2 innings in his last time out, a win against the Marlins. After a blazing July (4-1, 2.06 ERA), Roark has had his share of struggles in August (4.26 ERA). He gave up three runs on 5.2 innings against the Pirates in his last start.

Game 4, Thursday 1:05 PT: LHP Wade Miley (7-9, 4.46 ERA, 4.04 FIP) v.s. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.06 ERA, 3.10 FIP)

Miley was let down by his defense in his last start, as four errors behind him saw him pick up the loss despite giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits over seven innings against the Marlins. He has struggled in August (0-2, 7.13 ERA). Gonzalez has struggled with high pitch counts that have limited how far he can go into games. He gave up just three runs over five innings against Pittsburgh in his last start, but was taken out after throwing 102 pitches.