Series #26 Preview: Nats vs. Rockies

After the Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 5-1 on the back of a strong pitching performance by Jordan Zimmermann and some actual, honest to goodness, hits, they look to continue their success against the Rockies this year.  

The Nationals will still be without the services of Bryce Harper this weekend, although he is finally resuming baseball activities. He won’t be back immediately, but the day is approaching where Bryce Harper will slot back into the middle of the order and in left field. The Nats will try this weekend to close the gap with the division leading Braves a bit, so it’s easier to catch-up once Harper returns.  

Anyways, the Rockies are in town to start a long stretch of home games for the Nationals. With the win Thursday night in game one of the series the Nationals once again moved to .500 on the season. Winning the series then would put the Nationals in a much better outlook than they were just days ago before the final game of the Phillies series. So let’s look at who they have to beat to do that.

Game #73: Stephen Strasburg (2.50 ERA, 1.059 WHIP) vs. Tyler Chatwood  (2.33 ERA, 1.371 WHIP) at 7:05 pm

The Rockies enter the series without MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki, after he went on the disabled list with a rib injury he sustained the last time these two teams met. Dexter Fowler also missed the first game of the series and he could possibly go on the disabled list as well. So the Rockies are potentially down two of their three best players against the Nationals.

The bad news for Stephen Strasburg here though is that since Fowler is out, Strasburg’s nemesis, Tyler Colvin, will likely be getting starts in the outfield. Colvin has just three plate appearances against the Nats ace, but has hits in all three, with two of them home runs.   

The Rockies will be running out Tyler Chatwood, a young guy who was a second round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2008. Chatwood spent some time in the Majors in 2011 with the Angels and 2012 with the Rockies, with little success to show for it. He has been good in his seven starts this season.

Chatwood’s underlying numbers suggest that he may be due for some regression though and the Nats are hoping that he chooses tonight to begin that. The Nationals have scored eleven runs in their last two games, but with Strasburg on the mound they likely don’t need that many. This could end up as a pitcher’s duel if good Chatwood shows up, but it also could likely end up a decisively in the Nats favor.  

Chatwood doesn’t have much of a history against the Nats, so factor that in as well.  

Gam e #74: Dan Haren (5.72 ERA, 1.411 WHIP) vs. Jhoulys Chacin  (4.26 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) at 12:05 pm 

This is already Chacin’s fifth year in the Major leagues, despite him only being 25 this year. He still doesn’t have much to show for his Major League experience, but this sort of longevity for a pitcher in Coors Field is almost unheard of. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t get a chance to leave Coors until 2016, but that’s of no concern to the Nats.  

What is of concern to the Nats is this game’s starter Dan Haren. Haren, who appeared for a bit to have calmed down enough to be a serviceable fifth starter, has all of a sudden struggled mightily again. Haren leads the league in home runs allowed at 18 and his strikeout to walk ratio of 4.77 belies his true production this season.

The Nationals and Rockies just had this same match-up in Colorado and the Nationals lost 8-3, so they will definitely not be looking for a repeat performance this time around. If Haren wants to be successful he needs to cut down on the home runs and hopefully the run support will be there. 

Game #75: Ross Detwiler (3.34 ERA, 1.394 WHIP) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (3.21 ERA, 1.264)  at 1:35 pm

It’s Bryce Harper Bobblehead Day at Nationals Park so be one of the first 14,999 to enter the park, I will be number 15,000, to get your bobblehead.

In actual game action Ross Detwiler has had some trouble of late finding the form he had before he went on the disabled list with an oblique injury. In his two starts back he’s pitched 11 innings, giving up seven earned runs, on 13 hits with only six strikeouts. Opponents have batted .310/.348./.429 in those two games.  

Jorge De La Rosa, along with Chatwood, has somehow managed to have decent stats for a starting pitcher, despite playing his home games in Coors Field. Unlike Chatwood, De La Rosa has an actual track record of being a serviceable Major League starter. Of the three starters this weekend De La Rosa could present the stiffest test for the Nationals’ offense.

Overall, the numbers look good for the Nationals. While player-batter splits are almost zero indicators of future success, the talent the Nats will begin to run out there on a daily basis will be good. The loss of Tulowitzki and possibly Fowler too bodes well for the Nats and if they can take advantage of this weekend set they could slowly see themselves climbing closer to the Braves.


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