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Series Preview: Pirates Host Nationals For Four

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MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping two of three against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates will continue their current 10-game homestand with a four game set against the Washington Nationals.

The Pirates have a record of 51-72, good for second worst in the National League behind only the Miami Marlins (45-78). They have been playing slightly better as of late, winning three of their last six, but still own a 7-27 record since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are in the middle of a playoff race. With a record of 67-56, they sit five games back of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves while also holding the first Wild Card playoff spot. With less than 40 left to play, every game is precious to the Nationals, a team who has a history of coming up short in big moments.

The Nationals have been hot lately, winning six of their last seven games. In April, the Pirates were able to take two of three against them in DC.

Schedule

Monday, 7:05 p.m. - Trevor Williams (5-5, 5.25) vs Joe Ross (3-3, 5.91)

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Chris Archer (3-9, 5.23) vs Stephen Strasburg (15-5, 3.82)

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. - Joe Musgrove (8-11, 4.59) vs Patrick Corbin (9-5, 3.34)

Thurday, 7:05 p.m. - Steven Brault (3-2, 4.06) vs Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41)

All games are televised on AT&T SportsNet-PIT. All games in Eastern Time.

Nationals Notes

Hitters

  • The Nationals have slew of young and talented hitters starting with 20-year old phenom Juan Soto. After posting maybe the greatest age 19 season ever, Soto has backed it up again this season. In 495 plate appearances, Soto is hitting .286/.398/.553 with 28 home runs. Soto’s plate discipline is impeccable. His walk rate of 15.6 percent is seventh best in baseball. Him being 20 years old makes it all that more incredible.
  • Anthony Rendon is quietly putting together another great season. His 5.0 fWAR leads Nationals’ position players. His wRC+ of 150 also leads the team. The third baseman and free agent to be is on pace to put up his fourth career 6-WAR season. In my mind, this man the most underrated baseball player there is.
  • In 284 plate appearances, infielder Howie Kendrick is having a career year on offense. He is slashing .319/.373/.543 with 13 home runs. Kendrick has always been a solid hitter, but this would be his first year ever slugging above .500.

Pitchers

  • On Thursday, Scherzer will make his first start after missing nearly a month due to a rhomboid strain. Although he’s only pitched twice since the start of July, the 35-year-old ace has still accumulated 5.7 fWAR this season. In 134.1 innings of work, Scherzer has 189 strikeouts and his K rate of 35.3 percent ranks third in all of baseball. In 80 career innings against the Pirates, Scherzer is 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 101 strikeouts.
  • The Nationals bullpen has been atrocious this season. Their 6.09 ERA as a unit is second worst in baseball behind only the Baltimore Orioles. Their 23 blown saves are tied with the Cubs for second highest in baseball. The San Diego Padres lead that category with 24. Opponents are hitting .276/.355/.471 against National relievers this season.