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Preview, #25: 4/27 @ Nationals

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The Nationals are sputtering and we avoid Scherzer too, as the D-backs go for a ninth series win in a row.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS WASHINGTON NATIONALS
David Peralta - LF Trea Turner - SS
Jarrod Dyson - RF Howie Kendrick - 2B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Bryce Harper - RF
A.J. Pollock - CF Ryan Zimmerman - 1B
Daniel Descalso - 3B Matt Adams - LF
Ketel Marte - 2B Matt Wieters - C
Nick Ahmed - SS Andrew Stevenson - CF
Jeff Mathis - C Wilmer Difo - 3B
Zack Godley - RHP Stephen Strasburg - RHP

The Nationals have been one of the disappointments of the season so far. They crushed all before them last year, winning the NL East by a massive twenty-game margin, the largest in the NL since the 1995 Braves (21 games). And literally every ESPN pundit predicted them to repeat as champions again. Yet here we are: almost at the end of April, and they sit in fourth place in their division, behind not only the Mets, but also the Phillies and Braves. They’ve already clinched a losing record for April, which will be their first such month in the regular season since August 2015. While they’re a little unlucky to be below .500, having outscored their opponents, there’s no doubt the D-backs are catching them at the right time.

And also at the right point in the rotation, avoiding having to face Washington staff ace (and former Diamondback) Max Scherzer. Not that the rest of the rotation are exactly playing patty-cake, especially today when we face Stephen Strasburg. But is there anyone who would NOT rather go up against Jeremy Hellickson than Scherzer? I do get the feeling that this series could well follow in the footsteps of quite a few others, to be decided by the rubber game on Sunday, after we split the first two. Winning this evening’s game would be a good achievement for Arizona. If they’re to progress anywhere deeper into the post-season than last year, they’re going to have to find a way to beat top-tier starters like Strasburg.

After a shaky start, Godley bounced back to more regular form against the Padres, with a K:BB ratio of 8:1 over 5.2 innings, getting the win as the Diamondbacks prevailed, 6-2. Interesting to note that he, like most of our starters has been kept on a relatively low pitch count so far. Through 24 games, only two Diamondbacks starters have thrown over 100 pitches, and both were during the series in Philadelphia: Matt Koch reached 102 yesterday, and Patrick Corbin 107 on Tuesday. For comparison, through 24 games last year, we had nine > 100 pitch games, topping out at 111. I’m curious as to whether this is a deliberate decision by Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo, perhaps to reduce fatigue later in the year.