Series Preview: Nationals @ Pirates

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Photo: Keith Allison

Washington Nationals (24-13) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (16-22)


GAME 1

Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 3.28 ERA) vs Chad Kuhl (1-3, 5.81 ERA)

Time: Tuesday – 7:05

 

Following two straight wins, the Pirates will have to face the hottest team in baseball. They have the best record in the NL at 24-13, and are 20-10 over their last 30 games. Stephen Strasburg has been a key part of their success. This season, he has the lowest FIP in their rotation at 2.82. You might remember him from his major league debut, the one in which he struckout 14 Pirates over 7 innings while walking 0 batters. Since then, he’s had some issues with his health. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery, and has had issues with his neck and back in the past. Regardless, Strasburg has dominated the Pirates since his debut.

I just wrote about why I think Chad Kuhl is going to breakout. With that said, this one is going to be a challenge for him. The Nationals are first in runs per game, at 6.05. The next highest National League team is 0.72 runs lower! In this game, I will be looking at Kuhl’s command and pitch selection to see if either are the reasons he hasn’t had a better season.

Vegas, predictably, likes the Nationals in this one. They have them at -170, or 63% favorites.


GAME 2

TBD ( ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (1-4, 3.06 ERA)

Time: Wednesday – 7:05

 

The Nationals don’t currently have a pitcher scheduled to start this game, so, I can’t give a rundown of how good he is. NEXT.

Gerrit Cole is healthy again, therefore, he’s an ace again. The team obviously hasn’t supported him, though. He’s getting the 7th least amount of run support in the league, which has helped carry him to having 1 win less than Tony Watson.

A TBD pitcher for the Nationals is a good thing, the Nationals rotation is very good and having to face a pitcher not normally in the rotation bodes well for Gerrit’s run support chances. Gerrit has a 2.85 FIP against the Nat’s over his career.


GAME 3

Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.88 ERA) vs Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 7.98 ERA)

Time: Thursday – 12:35

 

Tanner Roark was drafted in the 25th round in the 2008 draft. Anytime you draft someone in the 25th round and they become a major leaguer, you did a great job. Roark has been more than just a guy, though. Over 619.2 career innings, he has a 3.08 ERA. He is a good pitcher, but one that the Pirates can certainly beat…

… if Tyler Glasnow wasn’t on the mound. Glasnow has obviously had a bumpy year. His ERA is sky high, his FIP and xFIP are better, but still not good. He is now 6th in BB%, behind guys like Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez. He has started to throw more strikes, but he has started to throw them down the middle. Throwing strikes is good, but throwing hittable strikes is not. He obviously has good stuff, and is tough to hit. But anybody can hit a middle-middle fastball. In this game, I’ll say Bryce Harper gets at least 3.5 HR+BB. Would you take the over or under?

This season the Nationals have the best run differential in the league at +56. The Pirates have the fourth worst at -38. With that said, Vegas thinks the Nationals have a 57% chance to win the series. What do you think?

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