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Series Preview #23: Diamondbacks at Nationals

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The Diamondbacks stay in the NL East for a four game series against the Washington Nationals

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

After a trip to Philly, the Diamondbacks stay on the East Coast and take on the Nationals. After a very interesting off seasons for Washington, so far they haven’t had nearly as interesting a regular season. Currently 31-36 and 8 games back of the Braves in the NL East, the Nats are struggling so far this season.

Game 1: Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.87 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) vs. Erick Fedde (1-0, 2.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Zack Greinke continues his great season. Last time out against the Jays, he threw six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, and the neck stiffness from the start before didn’t seem to impact him at all.

Erick Fredde just recently joined the Nationals’ rotation this season and will be making his fifth start of the season. Before that he had been in the bullpen as a fairly effective reliever. He’s been effective as a starter as well, not giving up more than three runs in a start yet.

Game 2: Robbie Ray (5-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs. Max Scherzer (4-5, 2.83 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)

Ray has been living up to his potential the past few games. He had his best start of the year against the Dodgers and followed it up with an even better start against the Blue Jays with 6.2 innings pitched, five hits, and only two runs, along side 10 strike outs. Even with his ups and downs, he is already sitting at 101 Ks on the season, on pace for his best season yet in that regard.

Scherzer has been his usual sterling self on the mound this season, and he’s even better than those numbers above suggest, with one bad start accounting for 0.6 of his ERA. Take that 6 ER performance from April out of the equation, and it drops his ERA down to 2.25 on the year. As always, he’s going to be tough to compete against and tough to watch as everyone brings up an almost ten year old trade and blames it for where the team is today.

Game 3: Taylor Clarke (1-2, 5.26 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) vs Stephen Strasburg (7-3, 3.36 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Taylor Clarke didn’t have a great start against the Phillies in the rain. He only went 3.1 innings, giving up four runs. Following his first two starts, which were great, he’s been up and down, going five innings with two earned runs two starts ago against the Dodgers, but only last two innings prior to that against the Rockies. Given the Diamondbacks lack of pitching depth, he’ll probably get to work through it, but it could be rough in the meantime.

In his last start, Clarke was bailed out by a Dbacks record eight home runs propelling the team to victory despite his poor start. He probably won’t be able to count on that this time, considering over his last seven starts, Strasburg has only given up two home runs. Now that’s not to say he can’t be taken deep. He was averaging one homer per game in his first six starts this season. He’s going to be tough. Other than one bad start against the White Sox, he’s been nails over the past six weeks or so.

Game 4: TBD vs Anibal Sanchez (2-6, 3.92 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)

This was Jon Duplantier’s spot in the rotation, before going down with shoulder inflammation following his start on Tuesday. The options for the start are pretty limited, honestly. Duplantier basically represented the entirety of the Diamondbacks current pitching depth. The easy option for this game probably is a bullpen game started by Godley and then followed by McFarland, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anibal Sanchez missed some time with a hamstring injury last month, but has come back strong. He’s had three starts since coming off the IL, and they’ve been pretty stellar. He’s gone 6.0, 5.1, and 6.0 IP in those three starts and given up zero, one, and one earned run in them. However, before his injured list stint, he was sporting a 5.10 ERA, so it all depends on which version of Sanchez the Diamondbacks see.

Conclusion

Its easy to predict a split in any four game series, but that’s what I’m going to go with here. I’m confident with Greinke on the mound against anyone, and Ray has been doing well his last couple starts. I’m worried about Clarke’s start, but he has shown he is capable of firing off a good game. All bets are off with the last game of the series, at least until the Front Office tells us who is taking the mound.