Big Stretch Upcoming For Nats
Last night’s thrilling win against the Mets in extra innings could act as a spring board to propel the Nationals on a hot streak as they prepare to host all four of their NL East opponents over the next two plus weeks in what could be the most important stretch of the regular season.
Between today and August 5th, the Nats will play 20 games — 16 against NL East foes — 13 of which will be played at Nats Park. Washington has fared well against the division sporting a 19-11 record up to this point. Couple that record with their great road record of 27-20 (2nd best in MLB) and you see the Nats are winning the games that really matter.
Sitting just 3.5 games ahead of the Braves, the most important series during this stretch will be this weekend’s 4-game series against Atlanta. Friday night Stephen Strasburg will face off against Tommy Hanson who has been struggling to find his form all season long, but picked up the win last time he faced Washington in a 3-2 game back on June 3rd. Stras looked dominant in his last start where he featured his fastball more so then he has at any other point this year.
Saturday’s double header will feature the season debut of John Lannan who has been pitching for the Syracuse Chiefs after his demotion in favor Ross Detwiler before the season. Despite losing his last three starts in AAA, giving up 14 runs in just 17 innings over that stretch, the team elected to bring him up for a spot start over Yunesky Maya and Zach Duke. (stats for the Syracuse Chiefs)
I believe the team decided to go with Lannan for two reasons. First, his success against Atlanta over the course of his career — over 15 starts he has an 8-5 record, a 3.25 ERA and 60 punch outs — by far his best numbers against any team that he has faced. This start could also be a test to see if Lannan can be counted on to replace Strasburg in September. I think the team may look at making a move for a guy like Kevin Millwood if Lannan doesn’t impress.
Edwin Jackson will look to right himself during the first part of the double header after three spotty starts where he saw his ERA jump nearly a full run from 2.91 to 3.89. He will be going against Ben Sheets, who just won his first start in over two years in a 6-1 victory over the Mets this past weekend.
The series will wrap up with Ross Detwiler taking on Jair Jurrjens. Ross has not fared well against Atlanta this year, having given up 7 runs in 11 innings over two starts. Detwiler looked great last night against New York and will hopefully build off of that success on Sunday.
Hopefully the Nats faithful come out in droves this weekend to support the ‘Never Die Nats’ in their biggest series of the season up to this point.
If DC wants to be considered a baseball town this is the kind of series that should fill up the park.