The Washington Nationals (32-29) are currently in the best offensive stretch of the 2014 season, going 7-3 in the last ten games. They’ve also gotten outstanding pitching performances from the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Jordan Zimmermann, who threw a shutout and struck out 12 on Sunday. Now, the Nats head to face the red-hot San Francisco Giants (42-21) in what may be the biggest test of the season so far.
Over the last ten games, the Nats have increased their run differential from +4 to +38, giving them the second-best differential in the National League. The only team that’s better: the Giants, who have a +65 differential. If you use those differentials to calculate the expected records for each team using Pythagorean Win-Loss, the Nats would end with an excellent 94-68 record. The Giants, however, would be 102-60. As hot as the Nats are, the Giants are right there with them, and this could be one of the most exciting match ups we’ve seen yet.
All of the Pitching
We’ll cover the probable starters down at the bottom, like usual, but these two pitching staffs deserved their own section in the preview. These teams aren’t just about offense. The Nats pitchers lead the National League with 8.7 WAR, 3.00 ERA, and 3.16 FIP. The Giants are still in the top half with 4.5 WAR (7th), 3.07 ERA (3rd), and 3.50 FIP (5th). The Nats have had truly great starts from their staff over the last week, and they’ll look to keep it going against the equally-hot Giants’ starters.
Take On Me
The Nats will take on fan-favorite Michael Morse for the first time since being traded to the Seattle Mariners in January 2013. Despite slumping and dealing with injuries last season with the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, Morse is off to a great start this season. He’s stayed healthy, playing in all but one of the Giants’ games, and has created 47% more runs than league average, which is ninth-best in the NL. He’s gotten the bulk of his plate appearances in the cleanup spot this year.
In The Zone (*June splits)
Hunter Pence (RF) .321 avg, .924 OPS
Danny Espinosa (2B) .400 avg, .964 OPS with 5 RBI
Who’s Hot? (*June splits)
Buster Posey (C) .370 avg, .889 OPS
Ian Desmond (SS) 1.002 OPS, 3 HR, 5 RBI
Who’s Not? (*June splits)
Pablo Sandoval (3B) .214/.258/.250
Wilson Ramos (C) .211/.250/263
6/9, Stephen Strasburg (5-4, 3.10 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 11.18 K/9) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 3.39 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 7.83 K/9)
6/10, Doug Fister (4-1, 3.19 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 6.87 K/9) vs. Madison Bumgarner (8-3, 2.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 10.04 K/9)
6/11, Tanner Roark (4-4, 2.91 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 7.10 K/9) vs. Matt Cain (1-3, 3.52 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 7.04 K/9)
6/12, Blake Treinen (0-2, 1.78 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 5.33 K/9) vs. TBD
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)