TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Series Preview: at Washington Nationals

PHI: 13-13, 4th in NL East; WAS: 16-9, 1st in NL East

When: May 4-6
Where: Nationals Park (Washington D.C.)

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 6.59) vs Stephen Strasberg (2-0, 1.13)
Saturday: Vance Worley (2-1, 1.97) vs Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.82)
Sunday: Cole Hamels (3-1, 2.78) vs Jordan Zimmerman (1-2, 1.89)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05, TCN
Saturday, 1:05, CSN
Sunday, 8:05, ESPN
All Games on 94.1 FM

Nationals SP Stephen Strasberg. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Player to Watch – SP Stephen Strasberg (2-0, 1.13 ERA, 34 K): The Nationals righty phenom will open up this series against the Phillies. One of the best young pitchers in baseball, Strasberg is entering his first full season with the Nationals and is looking to make some serious noise around the National League. Strasberg can start this series off on the right foot for Washington or he could falter… but the former looks to be the better of the two scenarios.

Series Overview: This is the big series both teams have been waiting for since the off season.

The Nationals made some big moves, most notably Gio Gonzalez as well as having Stephen Strasberg 100% healthy at the start of the season. In turn, they launched a “Take Back the Park” campaign as well as a new slogan called “Nattitude.” Then there were the  acclamations from ex-Phillie Brad Lidge and manager Davey Johnson that the Nats are a more talented bunch than the Phillies.

Sounds like a rivalry is being brewed from the Nation’s Capital and the Phillies are ready to accept a new challenger to their throne on top of the NL East. The Mets were that team in 2007 and 2008. No one really made it interesting in 2009 and the last two years have belonged to the Braves in terms of number one contender.

Now it’s Washington and they do pose a serious threat. It isn’t because the Nats are so good but the fact the Phillies are so banged up. That aside, Philadelphia is only 3.5 games behind the Nationals heading into this series and could put themselves in prime position to take the top spot back.

Washington will be throwing their three best pitchers this series, starting with Strasberg. He will face Kyle Kendrick, who is pitching in place of injured lefty Cliff Lee. Kendrick allowed three runs, two earned, in six innings his last start against Chicago.

Gonzalez will make his first career start against the Phillies after a career spent in the AL West. Taking the mound against him is Vance Worley, who has the staff’s lowest ERA with a 1.97.

Then it will be Jordan Zimmerman on Sunday. Zimmerman has struggled in three career starts against the Phillies, going 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs in 15 innings. Facing him will be Cole Hamels, who has dominated Washington in 20 career starts (10-4, 2.71 ERA).

Nix Returns to D.C. — Laynce Nix will be taking a hot bat with him down to D.C. when he returns to the Nationals for the first time this season.

Nix, who played all of 2011 with Washington while hitting .250 with 14 homers, is enjoying an incredibly hot start to the 2012 season. In 16 games this year, Nix his hitting .314 with two homers, nine RBIs and a .971 OPS.

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