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Series Preview: Diamondbacks @ Nationals

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The D-Backs travel to the Nats in meaningless September baseball. Woo.

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks (64-91) @ Washington Nationals (91-64)

Are you excited to watch the D-Backs take on one of the most complete teams in the majors in a series with no playoff implications at all? So am I! Don’t expect to see too much of the Nationals starters in this series, as they have virtually nothing to play for.

State of the Nationals

The Nats have clinched the NL East, and currently hold the second best record in the NL. Starting pitching has led them to the division title, 4 out of their 5 starters with an ERA+ over 100. Washington also boasts one of the top bullpens in the majors, with a 3.25 ERA. Overall, the Nationals are second in runs allowed per game. On the offense side, they’ve also been very good, 4th in NL runs scored. Daniel Murphy and his .347 batting average lead the lineup, followed by catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Bryce Harper. Since May 1, Harper has put up a triple slash of .236/.368/.389. Not quite the MVP caliber numbers of last year. After a meh season last year, Ryan Zimmerman’s performance has really dropped off in 2016. He is batting only .216 on the year. In other news, nobody has been throwing punches in the dugout, so that’s an added bonus.

Injury Report

The D-Backs are shutting everyone who is injured down for the year, a very wise decision in my opinion.

The Nationals recently lost Daniel Murphy, their leader on offense, to a "left buttocks injury". That’s a real pain in the a- never mind I’ll stop. Stephen Strasburg went down to injury at the beginning of the month, and his playoff status is in question. Since the Nats have the NL East clinched, I highly doubt they’ll risk bringing him back in the regular season.

Probable Pitchers

Game 1: Archie Bradley RHP (7-9, 5.02 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) vs Tanner Roark RHP (15-9, 2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

Looking forward to next year, Archie’s case for being in the 2017 rotation is not very strong. In his last 10 starts, he has put up an ERA of 6.43. While I believe he should and will be given every opportunity to succeed, his window is beginning to close.

Roark has been a very pleasant surprise for Washington, and boy are they thankful. With Gio Gonzalez’s struggles and Strasburg’s injuries, Roark has been a key to Washington’s success. While not having overwhelming strikeout numbers-7.28 K/9- , Roark has excelled at keeping the ball in the stadium. He allows a mere 0.67 homers per 9 innings, 4th best among qualified pitchers. Advantage Nats.

Game 2: TBA vs Max Scherzer RHP (18-7, 2.82 ERA, 0.93 WHIP)

Meh, I suppose Scherzer’s alright. 11 K’s per 9, 2 walks per 9... not bad. He’s always fun to watch, though less fun when he is dominating your team.

Game 3: Shelby Miller RHP (2-12, 6.47 ERA, 1.70 WHIP) vs Gio Gonzalez LHP (11-10, 4.51 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Shelby’s last start was one of his best this year, 6 innings of scoreless pitching against the Orioles. The rest of his season has been sad face, and harping on him gets boring after a while.

What happened to Gio Gonzalez? He was so dominant a few years ago, and has slowly declined into a very meh 2016 season. This season has been a roller coaster for Gio, starting with a sub-2 ERA in April, up around 6 from May to June, then back down to a solid 2.50-3.50 ERA in June/August, and now he’s looking at a 7.45 September ERA. Yikes. Despite his struggles, he gets the advantage in this matchup due to whom he’s pitching against.

Game 4: Robbie Ray LHP (8-14, 4.77 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) vs Joe Ross RHP (7-5, 3.48 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

After receiving so much praise and attention for his dazzling strikeout numbers, Ray has put up a 6.98 ERA in his last 6 games. Yikes. The strikeouts are still there- he has a 12.4 K/9 ratio in those games- but the results are not. His BABIP has been unusually high lately, so there’s definitely some bad luck involved with the high run totals.

In his sophomore season, sinker-baller Joe Ross is establishing himself as a long term staple of the Washington rotation. He throws almost exclusively a sinker and a slider, but when it works I guess you don’t need to throw anything else. Advantage to Ross.

Prediction

D-Backs get swept, everyone is sad.