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Series Preview: Pirates at Nationals

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MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates (17-11) passed the first stage of a tough stretch of the schedule with flying colors in a three-game sweep of the Cardinals at home. They’ve won five in a row, going 5-1 since getting swept in Philadelphia.

The Bucs head on the road to face a Nationals team that hasn’t quite played to expectation in April. Washington has lost seven of its last 10, coming off a 3-1, sweep avoiding win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday.

Schedule

Monday, 7:05 p.m. — Jameson Taillon (2-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.77); TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. — Chad Kuhl (3-1, 4.55) vs. Max Scherzer (5-1, 1.62); TV: AT&T SportsNet

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. — Ivan Nova (2-1, 3.32) vs. Stephen Strasburg (2-3, 3.63); TV: AT&T SportsNet

Thursday, 1:05 p.m. — Trevor Williams (4-1, 2.29) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 4.11); TV: MLB Network

Nationals

12-16 (14-14 Pythag, 4.39 RS/G, 4.29 RA/G)

Offense

The Nationals are shorthanded with Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton on the disabled list. Bryce Harper’s contract year is off to an excellent start (.250/.455/.548, 8 HR). Trea Turner is 11-for-11 in stolen bases. Howie Kendrick (.301/.333/.527) and Matt Adams (.261/.382/.522) have been pressed into more action than the Nationals probably envisioned originally, but they’re no worse for the wear, at least offensively.

Pitching

The top four starters — Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark — have been between good and excellent. A.J. Cole was bad enough to get DFA’d and sent to the Yankees in a minor trade. Jeremy Hellickson, signed to a one-year, $2 million deal, is the fifth starter. It’s the Nationals’ 24th-ranked bullpen that’s held the staff back. New closer Sean Doolittle (15.75 K/9, 2.25 BB/9) has been fine, while Ryan Madson and, to some extent, Sammy Solis have had bad luck with good peripherals.

Outlook

The Pirates are good again!

The sweep of the Cardinals gave the Bucs a great head start in this three-series stretch. The Nationals are a bit of a wild card right now, so, umm, we’ll see. Stick around for further updates as to whether the Pirates are good!

Poll

How many games will the Pirates win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    4
    (27 votes)
  • 17%
    3
    (131 votes)
  • 60%
    2
    (440 votes)
  • 15%
    1
    (111 votes)
  • 2%
    0
    (21 votes)
730 votes total Vote Now