Series Preview: Nats look to restart their season against the Padres

The Washington Nationals (24-24) enter their series against the San Diego Padres (28-19) desperately trying to regain control over their season. The club has lost nine of their last 14 games dating back to their series with Colorado, and have been struggling to stay at .500 for the better part of a month. But as the arguous second half of May comes to a close, the Nationals find themselves facing a daunting opponent in the San Diego Padres, who enter tonight’s game in first place in the National League.

The Padres, like the Nationals, finished 2009 in the losers column, but have seen an emergence in 2010 which Washington would love to match. The rejuvination of the Southern California franchise has come abruptly, but the Padres fans who had prepared themselves for a long rebuilding process have had a pleasant surprise to start 2010.

San Diego has not done it with the bat however. Their leading hitter is, no joke, David Eckstein with a line of .297/.356/.384. The rest of their everyday players are hitting below .280, and their golden boy, Adrian Gonzalez, is having a modest year so far hitting .268/.386/.470.

Padres Last Series

San Diego enters tonight’s game after winning two of three from the Cardinals earlier this week. The Padres won the first two matches behind excellent starting pitching from John Garland and Kevin Correia who combined to allow no runs. The pitching ran out in the third game of the series as shortstop and leadoff hitter Brendan Ryan went four for four with three runs and a homer in the Cardinals 8-3 victory.

The second game of the series was one for the books as neither team managed to score in the 2-1 contest until the bottom of the 8th inning. The Padres struck first in the eighth only to be answered by the Cardinals in the 9th. Jerry Hairston Jr. (Yes the former Oriole) hit a walk off homer in the bottom of the 13th to win it for San Diego.

Who’s Hot?

Jerry Hairston Jr.: 5/12,  2HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

Who’s Not?

Adrian Gonzalez:1/13, 5 K

Probable Pitchers

Fri., May 28: Clayton Richard (4-2, 2.73) vs. John Lannan (1-2, 5.55)
Sat., May 29: Mat Latos (4-3, 3.09) vs. J.D. Martin (-,-)
Sun., May 30: Jon Garland (6-2, 2.10) vs. Livan Hernandez (4-3, 2.08)

Nats must overcome dominant starting pitching

While the Padres Starting pitching has been modest, to say the least, the clubs starting pitching has been dominant. Of the five pitchers in their rotation, only one has an ERA above four, and two have an ERA below three.

Jon Garland:  6-2, 2.10 ERA, 38K
Kevin Correia: 4-4, 4.03 ERA, 43K
Clayton Richard: 4-2, 2.73 ERA, 41K
Mat Latos: 4-3, 3.09 ERA, 42K
Wade LeBlanc: 2-3, 3.71 ERA, 31K

As a club the pitching overall leads the MLB in xFIP at .378, and have the fourth best K/BB.