December 15, 2017

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

The best thing about the Nationals’ upcoming series with the Orioles is that they’re not playing the Reds anymore. The Nationals just haven’t been able to figure out Cincinnati this year — going 0-5 before Wednesday’s postponement.

The other good thing is that after they finish with the Orioles (43-42) on Sunday, the Nationals (46-38) will be off until Friday, and for a team bitten more than its fair share by the injury bug this season, those four days of rest could be key for a player like Denard Span, who will miss the Baltimore series, and it gives the team recovery days without players missing game time for those already on the disabled list, like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals could be catching the Orioles at a good time — Baltimore has lost six of its last seven and eight of ten overall. Washington enters the weekend with a three game lead over the Mets, who went 4-2 against the Dodgers and Giants in a west coast swing. The Mets close out the first half schedule against Arizona in New York.

The Last Time…

The last time the Nationals played the Orioles was Aug. 4, 2014 in a makeup game, which the Orioles won 7-3. It was postponed from July, when the Orioles and Nationals matched up in a four-game series with two home games apiece. The Nationals lost both games in Washington (including the makeup game), and the teams split the two games in Baltimore. They’ll meet again this year in late September in Washington…when a lot could be at stake.

In The Other Dugout

No one is out of it in the American League East. The Boston Red Sox are four games below .500 and are just five and a half games out of first place. So while the Orioles might not be thrilled about the fact that they are just a game above .500, they have to be happy that record is good enough for second place in the division. They’re three games behind the first-place Yankees.

Matchup To Watch

Two former Orioles All-Stars who have had less-than All-Star-caliber seasons for Baltimore are worth watching against the Nationals this weekend: Matt Wieters is 8 for 14 (.571) with a home run and a double against Friday night starter Gio Gonzalez, and Chris Davis is 5 for 13 (.385) against Sunday’s starter Doug Fister, with two of those hits home runs.

Probables

Friday, 7:05pm: Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 4.16 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (6-7, 5.57 ERA)

Saturday, 7:15pm: Jordan Zimmermann (7-5, 3.04 ERA) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (7-5, 3.87 ERA)

Sunday, 1:35pm: Doug Fister (3-4, 4.08 ERA) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (4-4, 2.82 ERA)

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