April 20, 2021

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Chicago Cubs

The last time the Cubs and Nationals met both teams were hot, and the series felt like a showcase of talent. This one has more of the feel of a showdown, with both teams struggling in the past week. Both teams begin this four game series losers of six out of ten.

The Nationals (29-24) are clinging to a half-game lead over the Mets, who dropped two out of three in San Diego and open up a series with the Diamondbacks tonight. The Cubs (27-24) are coming off a series where they won the first game of a three-game series with the Marlins and then dropped two straight in Miami.

The last time these two teams met the baseball was excellent. With a tinge of desperation added to this series, might the result be even better?

The Last Time…

You don’t have to dig too far back for the last time these two teams matched up. The Cubs and Nationals played a very tight series a week ago in Chicago, with the teams each taking a one-run game in the first two games, and a 3-0 Nationals win in the rubber match.

However, and it’s a BIG however, the Nats were without Anthony Rendon, who finally returns to the field for the Nats after missing the first 51 games of the season. Rendon will play second base and Yunel Escobar will stick at his now-familiar third base.

Getting Rendon should be a big boost to the Nats offense, giving them another high-OBP guy at the top of the order with pop.

In The Other Dugout

Not a whole lot has happened since the Nationals last saw the Cubs, but this might prove interesting come the end of the season: Last Saturday the Cubs saw their game with Kansas City rained out. That game was re-scheduled for Monday, September 28th, in Chicago — which had been an off-day for both teams and the day before the Royals began a series with the White Sox in Chicago. It is possible both the Royals and Cubs could be in a post-season push that Monday of the season’s final week — will the added game affect pitching rotations leading up to the playoffs?

Matchup To Watch

Not many pitchers have had Bryce Harper’s number lately, but Jason Hammel, Saturday’s Cubs starter, hasn’t allowed a hit against him. Harper is 0 for 10 in his career against Hammel — he was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts against Hammel in their last matchup last July 4.

Probables

Thursday, 7:05pm: Jake Arrieta (4-4, 3.18 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 4.73 ERA)

Friday, 7:05pm: Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 2.30 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (1-2, 2.59 ERA)

Saturday, 12:05pm: Jason Hammel (4-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. TBA

Sunday, 4:05pm: Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.99 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (5-2, 2.88 ERA)

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