The Washington Nationals (19-15) are piecing themselves back together.
Though marquee players Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman remain on the disabled list, another marquee name will join the team to face the Oakland Athletics (20-15): Doug Fister.
Fister was the highlight acquisition during the Nationals’ off-season, but has yet to throw a pitch for his new team after being sidelined starting in Spring Training with a right lat strain.
After missing the first month of the season, Fister will be reinstated from the DL in time to face a team he is familiar with from his five years in the American League. He has a 5-5 record and 3.17 ERA in 12 starts against Oakland, and a 2.41 ERA in six appearances at O.co Coliseum.
But Fister isn’t the only National familiar with the Athletics. Current Nationals Gio Gonzalez and Jerry Blevins came to Washington from Oakland, and current Athletics Tommy Milone, Fernando Abad and Derek Norris were formally Nats.
Gonzalez will get the start for the series finale in a park he called home for the first four seasons of his career. At O.co Coliseum he has a 21-14 record with a 3.56 ERA, during a period when his overall ERA was 3.93.
Though the Nationals have not faced the Athletics since 2005 and this is their first trip to Oakland, they will look to benefit from the familiarity of singular players with the park and the team.
With Fister back in the starting rotation and Wilson Ramos, who rejoined the team on Wednesday, back in the lineup, the Nationals’ ability to contend with teams like first-place Oakland is only improving.
By The Numbers
Oakland’s and Washington’s stats are comparable, and with just one win separating their records, the even matchup should make for an interesting series, if you can stay up late enough to watch it.
The Athletics’ offensive slash line is .250/.339/.390, compared with the Nationals’ .258/.326/.408. Oakland’s batting average and slugging percentage rank in the middle of the pack, but they have the third-highest team on-base percentage, which is boosted by their league-leading number of walks (156).
Despite their similar offensive numbers, the A’s have been more effective at scoring runs, with the fifth-most in the league (166) to the Nationals’ 143.
On the pitching side, the two teams are also similar. They have the third- and fourth-best ERAs in baseball, with Washington at 3.03 and Oakland at 3.05.
Neither team allows many home runs or walks. Oakland has surrendered 27 homers (sixth fewest) and 101 walks (ninth fewest), while Washington has given up 24 home runs (third fewest) and 99 walks (seventh fewest).
The teams differ in that the Nats rely more heavily on punching out batters to keep them off the bases. The Nationals have the second-highest number of strikeouts in baseball (316), but a .249 opponent batting average, which ranks 15th. The Athletics are strong in the opposite manner with 279 strikeouts (13th), but the second-lowest opponent batting average (.224).
In The Zone
Adam LaRoche (1B) .389 AVG, .500 SLG, .611 OBP, 1 HR, 4 RBI (last six games)
Yoenis Cespedes (LF) .261 AVG, .346 OBP, .609 SLG, 2 HR, 4 RBI (last seven games)
Brandon Moss (1B) .250 AVG, .308 OBP, .500 SLG, 1 HR, 4 RBI (last seven games)
Josh Donaldson (3B) .174 AVG, .355 OBP, .174 SLG, 11 SO, 6 BB (last seven games)
Jed Lowrie (SS) .200 AVG, .226 OBP, .267 SLG, 3 SO, 1 BB (last seven games)
5/9, Doug Fister (0-0) vs. Tommy Milone (0-3, 5.86 ERA, .274 BAA, 16 SO, 12 BB)
5/10, Tanner Roark (2-1, 4.17 ERA, .261 BAA, 31 SO, 10 BB) vs. Sonny Gray (4-1, 1.91 ERA, .227 BAA, 40 SO, 16 BB)
5/11, Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.91 ERA, .208 BAA, 45 SO, 15 BB) vs. Scott Kazmir (4-1, 2.64 ERA, .223 BAA, 38 SO, 9 BB)