zimmermann 7-11

Nats Try To End First Half on High Note in Philly

After a closely-fought series with the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals (49-41) head up I-95 to take on the Philadelphia Phillies (41-51). While the Nats-O’s series felt like a budding rivalry, with two teams finally coming into their own, Nats-Phillies may be a rivalry on the downswing. The Phillies were dominant when the Nats were doormats, playing in the World Series in 2008 and 2009 while the Nats finished with baseball’s worst record both of those years. But the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way now, with the Nats well on their way to their third straight winning season and the Phillies headed toward their third straight of not breaking .500. A rivalry is hard to foster when both teams aren’t good at the same time.

But, of course, there will always be enough hate between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to ensure that a trip to the City of Brotherly Love is more important than your run-of-the-mill road series. And while the Phillies may be 10 games under .500, they sure aren’t playing like it right now, and will be headed home fresh off a four-game road sweep of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

In the teams’ first matchup of the season, the Phillies took two of three games at Citizens Bank Park in May, while Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, and Bryce Harper were all on the disabled list. But with a healthy Zimmerman and Ramos, the Nats swept the Phillies in D.C. a month later, leaving the season series 4-2 in favor of the Nationals.

Philadelphia’s bugaboo all season has been offense. Their team line of .238/.300/.362 ranks 28th, 27th, and 29th respectively, though they are a bit higher overall, scoring 3.86 runs per game, which is good for 24th. All-Star starting second baseman Chase Utley has led the way, hitting an impressive .294/.352/.452, but former MVP 1B Ryan Howard has been a disappointment, with a paltry .228/.307/.395.

Their pitching has been relatively strong, smack dab in the middle at 15th in baseball in ERA at 3.84, 14th in quality starts with 49, but 20th with a 1.32 WHIP. But without much run support, the Phillies have not had a winning recipe, and sit 11th in the NL, nine games out of the wild card. A few wins coming into the break would help them stay on the fringes of contention, but they’ll have their work cut out for them with the Nats.

(next three sections are stats from the last week)

In The Zone

Chase Utley (2B) .409 avg, 1.144 OPS, 0.5 WAR, 2 HR, 215 wRC+

Jayson Werth (OF) .348 avg, 1.336 OPS, 0.6 WAR, 3 HR, 266 wRC+

Who’s Hot?

Ben Revere (CF) .280 avg, .788 OPS, 0.1 WAR, 118 wRC+

Anthony Rendon (2B/3B) .346 avg, 1.024 OPS, 0.4 WAR, 186 wRC+

Who’s Not?

Ryan Howard (1B) .130 avg, .563 OPS, -0.1 WAR, 1 HR, 61 wRC+

Bryce Harper (OF) .050 avg, .258 OPS, -0.5 WAR, 0 HR, -47 wRC+

Probable Pitchers

7/7, RHP Jordan Zimmermann (6-4, 2.79 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 7.88 K/9) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (5-8, 3.92 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 7.40 K/9)

7/8, RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-6, 3.47 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 10.56 K/9)  vs. LHP Cole Hamels (3-5, 2.87 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 9.06 K/9)

7/9, RHP Tanner Roark (7-6, 3.12 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 6.67 K/9) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (4-8, 4.46 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 5.56 K/9)

About Andrew Flax

Writer for The Nats Blog