December 15, 2017

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Nationals (51-42) kick off a 10-game road trip in Pittsburgh against the Pirates (54-40).

The Nats, courtesy of their 8th inning comeback Wednesday afternoon against the Mets, enter the  four game series 3 games in front of New York in the National League East.

The Pirates own the second-best record in the National League, but the only team with a better record (and in fact the best record in the majors) is the St. Louis Cardinals, who lead the Pirates in the Central by six games.

*The Last Time…

The Nationals and Pirates last faced off a month ago in Washington. The Pirates came into the series as the hottest team in baseball, but the Nationals cooled them off quickly, sweeping the 3-game series, which featured Max Scherzer’s no-hitter…and near perfect game.

*In The Other Dugout

The Pirates went rolling into the All Star break, beating their division rival Cardinals three out of four games to end the first half. But things have not gone the Pirates’ way coming out of the break. Not only has the team lost five of six, but they lost shortstop Jordy Mercer to an MCL sprain earlier this week. He joins infielder Josh Harrison on the disabled list, with neither one expected back before September.

*Matchup To Watch

Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez is 4-for-7 against Thursday night’s starter, Doug Fister. After that, though, Alvarez is a combined 0-for-18 against the three remaining Nationals starters in the series.

*Probables

Thursday, 7:05pm: Doug Fister (3-5, 4.30 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (5-6, 2.98 ERA)

Friday, 7:05pm: Max Scherzer (10-8, 2.09 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (5-6, 4.01 ERA)

Saturday, 7:05pm: Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.93 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-3, 2.44 ERA)

Sunday, 1:35pm: Joe Ross (2-2, 2.70 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (13-4, 2.31 ERA)

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