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Preview, #28: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Washington Nationals

Mr. Walker Goes To Washington

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

A.J. Pollock - CF Trea Turner - SS
Chris Owings - RF Jayson Werth - LF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Bryce Harper - RF
Jake Lamb - 3B Ryan Zimmerman - 1B
Yasmany Tomas - LF Daniel Murphy - 2B
Brandon Drury - 2B Anthony Rendon - 3B
Chris Herrmann - C Michael Taylor - CF
Nick Ahmed - SS Jose Lobaton - C
Taijuan Walker - RHP Tanner Roark - RHP

Here's a bit of a reality check as we head into this series. Know how much better we're playing this year than last? Guess how much better off we are in the standings, in terms of games back. The answer: absolutely nothing. At the end of April last year, we were one-half game back of the leaders in the NL West as well. Of course, it was a much tighter race - oddly, all five teams in the division were below .500 - and we were actually in fourth place by win percentage. But if the atmosphere this year is totally different, it does perhaps remind us that five-sixths of the season is still to be played, and so the great majority of the work remains to be done.

This promises to be a real test, as thunderpumpkin87's series preview suggested, with a pair of high-powered offenses squaring off. The Nationals have scored 73 runs over their last six games, a staggering volume, even if three of those games were at Coors, and the others against a Mets team apparently intent on self-immolation. But there's no denying the hitting talent shown in the first month, by a team with a collective OPS+ of 129. Our main hope is to try and go toe-to-toe with them over the early innings, then take advantage against a bullpen which has been the worst in the league, with an ERA of 5.70. Whatever the runs is here, I'd probably take the "over"!

The D-backs will also be trying to tie the major-league record for consecutive games with more than 10 strikeouts. We've done it seven games in a row, which trails only the 2014 Indians, who managed it eight games in a row, from September 16-23. It's been that kind of a month. Arizona's 252 strikeouts in April were tied for the third most in a single month in club history, trailing only Sept./Oct 2015 (259) and Aug. '03 (256). I'm surprised the record isn't considerably higher, back in the seasons when it seemed that the Big Unit was striking out 16 batters or more, every fifth day! But one through five, this rotation are apparently as good at the K as any in team history.