As they continue to slog through their schedule, losing more games than winning, the Washington Nationals (52-56) prepare to take on the Milwaukee Brewers (46-62) with hopes of improving on the solid performance they put in during their last meeting.
The Nationals opened July by splitting a four-game series with the Brewers, during which they scored 10 and eight runs in the games they won. Washington will aim to start August with similarly offense-laden wins, as they enter what first baseman Adam LaRoche called a “do-or-die” month.
Starting With The Crew
The Nationals are still clinging to second place in the National League East, though they have lost 14 of their last 20 games and have averaged only 3.15 runs per game in that span.
Their offense might catch a bit of a break as they prepare to take on the NL Central’s last-place Brewers, who have used 11 different starting pitchers this year and have the fourth-worst starting ERA of MLB teams (4.71).
Donovan Hand and former-National Tom Gorzelanny will both make their sixth starts of the year during this series, filling in for Marco Estrada and Yovani Gallardo, who are both on the disabled list.
Hand made one of his previous five starts against the Nationals, when he allowed three earned runs over five innings, earning a no-decision.
Improvements To The Back End
On the flip side, the Nationals have the 10th-best starting ERA in baseball (3.80), and their lack of wins has mostly been a product of absent offense, not a deficiency in quality pitching.
The Brewers will be facing the back end of the Nationals rotation. Though it has been unreliable for much of the season, there have been recent signs of improvement.
Taylor Jordan earned his first major-league win in his last start, and has held down a 3.31 ERA through six starts with the Nats while spelling an injured Ross Detwiler.
Since coming off the DL after a terrible first three months of the season, Dan Haren has pitched for a 3.13 ERA in four starts. He has allowed only two home runs in that period, a stat that has plagued him all season. Haren is now tied for fourth-most home runs allowed in the majors, instead of leading that category as he did earlier in the season.
Jordan Zimmermann did not have a great July, pitching for a 7.18 ERA over five starts – punctuated by a seven-run, two-inning start on July 21. However, one bad month doesn’t erase three months of accomplishments, when he went 11-3 with a 2.28 ERA.
With recent performances producing success from the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, and with Zimmermann capable of putting in a quality start any time he takes the mound, the Nationals look like they are in good shape on the pitching side of this series.
They will just have to hope, as they have the whole season, that the offense shows up.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .444 AVG, .500 OBP, .444 SLG, 4 R (last six games)
Caleb Gindl (RF) .476 AVG, .476 OBP, .667 SLG, 4 2B (last seven games)
Jonathan Lucroy (C) .292 AVG, .346 OBP, .625 SLG, 5 2B (last seven games)
Rickie Weeks (2B) .185 AVG, .214 OBP, .296 SLG, 5 SO (last six games)
Norichika Aoki (RF) .222 AVG, .222 OBP, .333 SLG, 3 SB (last seven games)
8/2, Jordan Zimmermann (12-6, 3.19 ERA, .232 BAA, 104 SO) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 2.83 ERA, .206 BAA, 60 SO)
8/3, Dan Haren (5-11, 5.49 ERA, .288 BAA, 93 SO) vs. Donovan Hand (0-2, 3.56 ERA, .288 BAA, 22 SO)
8/4, Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.31 ERA, .293 BAA, 21 SO) vs. Kyle Lohse (7-7, 3.22 ERA, .254 BAA, 88 SO)