April 21, 2021

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Chicago Cubs

The Nationals (26-18) are living up to their pre-season hype as the best team in the National League. After taking two out of three against Philadelphia this weekend the Nationals are a half-game behind the Dodgers and two games behind the Cardinals as far as tops in the National League.

Just three and a half games behind the Cardinals, though, are the Cubs (24-19), who might have been the most talked about team coming into this season. The Cubs signed Jon Lester to add a veteran pitching presence to a young core and have hit their stride in recent weeks, showing that they’ll be an exciting team to watch for the rest of 2015…and probably for many more years to come.

The Last Time…

This is the first meeting of the year between the Nationals and Cubs. Last year the Nationals took two out of three against the Cubs in Washington, and the teams split a four-game series in Chicago last June. You may remember that series featured a Saturday doubleheader as the Sunday game was moved up a day to ease congestion in the city during Chicago’s Pride Parade.

In The Other Dugout

If you haven’t been paying attention to Joe Maddon’s Cubs, you may want to start. Anthony Rizzo has built on his All Star 2014 season with a sizzling start to 2015, leading the Cubs in almost every offensive category, and Kris Bryant has lived up to the hype in the 35 games since his (late) call-up to the majors.

And the pitching has been a pleasant surprise for Cubs fans. Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks are not as well known as Jon Lester but have been as good if not better when they pitch.

Matchup To Watch

Nationals baserunners on Wednesday night versus Jon Lester: Baserunners in the National League the past two months have tested Jon Lester’s yips throwing to bases far more than the American League ever had. It will be interesting to see how the Nationals approach him. As a team the Nationals have just 11 steals in their 44 games, seven of which belong to just two players — Michael Taylor and Denard Span. Steals have not been a huge part of Washington’s game so far this season but they might become a bigger part on Wednesday night in Chicago.

Probables

Monday, 2:20pm: Tanner Roark (0-2, 2.66 ERA) vs. Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 3.86 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:00pm: Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.52 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 4.14 ERA)

Wednesday, 8:05pm: Max Scherzer (5-3, 1.67 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (4-2, 3.56 ERA)

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