The Washington Nationals (19-18) fell into third place in the NL-East after being solidly swept by the Oakland Athletics over the weekend. As they cling to their barely-over-.500 record, they prepare to face the Arizona Diamondbacks (15-25), which should be just the team to help them bounce back.
The Diamondbacks are in last place in the NL-West and have the second-worst record in the National League. They won their last three consecutive series on the road, but have a 3-15 record at home, which should benefit the Nationals as they head to the desert for Matt Williams’ first visit since leaving the team he spent most of his career with as a player, coach and more.
Arizona boasts a run differential of -63, and its offense is averaging 3.74 runs per game, good for sixth worst in baseball. The Nats fell into the red after the Oakland series, and now have a -3 run differential.
The Nationals and the Diamondbacks have almost identical slash lines of .251/.318/.393 and .252/.306/.385, respectively, so the Nats shouldn’t expected to be overpowered with offense. Only one of the Diamondbacks’ qualified batters, Paul Goldschmidt, has a batting average over .300.
The pitching isn’t expected to be prodigious either, as the Diamondbacks have the second-worst ERA in baseball (4.81), which only recently fell lower than the Houston Astros’ MLB-worst ERA. The staff has allowed the most home runs (45) and the most hits (364) to opposing teams.
Josh Collmenter plus two of the Diamondbacks’ starters who have been struggling the most, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon McCarthy, will go up against Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister in the three-game series.
Among Nationals’ qualified starters, Strasburg and Zimmermann have the lowest ERAs, and Zimmermann has been lights out in his last two starts. Over 10 1/3 innings, Zimmermann allowed no runs, walked one and struck out 10.
All signs point to the Nationals being able to win this series.
However, though they have generally done a decent job of winning against sub .500 teams, they haven’t been able to use them as springboards to gain momentum to play through the more challenging portions of their schedule. Perhaps the Nats can use the Diamondbacks to get something started.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .381 AVG, .458 OBP, .429 SLG, 1 RBI, 1 SO (last six games)
A.J Pollock (CF) .368 AVG, .455 OBP, .579 SLG, 2 RBI, 5 SB (last six games)
Gerardo Parra (RF) .346 AVG, .393 OBP, .692 SLG, 4 RBI, 2 HR (last six games)
Martin Prado (3B) .231 AVG, .222 OBP, .231 SLG, 4 SO, 0 BB (last six games)
Aaron Hill (2B) .250 AVG, .318 OBP, .400 SLG, 4 SO, 2 BB, 1 HR (last five games)
5/12, Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 2.92 ERA, .283 BAA, 30 SO, 8 BB) vs. Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.44 ERA, .255 BAA, 24 SO, 10 BB)
5/13, Stephen Strasburg (3-2, 3.42 ERA, .265 BAA, 64 SO, 15 BB) vs. Bronson Arroyo (3-2, 4.89 ERA, .289 BAA, 20 SO, 11 BB)
5/14, Doug Fister (0-1, 10.38 ERA, .391 BAA, 2 SO, 0 BB) vs. Brandon McCarthy (1-6, 5.66 ERA, .289 BAA, 45 SO, 10 BB)