Team Record: 61-44
Diamondbacks up next - The Nats continue their long road trip on Monday night with a 9:40 p.m. bout with the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of this year's most disappointing MLB teams. The D-Backs are dead-last in the crowded NL West at 43-62, 19 games below .500.
There will be some familiar faces in the other dugout this week, former Nationals manager Matt Williams among them. He is back in his old job as Diamondbacks third base coach. That should make for an interesting reunion.
The Nats will also face their former prospect, lefty Robbie Ray, in Tuesday's game. Ray was shipped to the Detroit Tigers back in 2013 as part of the Doug Fister trade. A former 12th round pick of the Nats, Ray is 5-10 with a 4.70 ERA this season.
Max Scherzer will also be facing his former team on Wednesday when he starts against the Diamondbacks. He was their first round pick (11th overall) in 2006 and spent two seasons there.
Arizona is a decent offensive team. They rank average among MLB teams in runs scored (16th), on-base percentage (18th) and slugging percentage (10th). The reason why they are bad is because of pitching. They place 29th in team ERA (4.93), WHIP (1.48) and batting average-against (.272).
The Diamondbacks are terrible and have lost nine of their last 12 games, but they still have Paul Goldschmidt, who is enjoying a solid year. And their 25-year-old third baseman Jake Lamb is also a player worth watching.
Giolito up-and-down, but innings are in check - Lucas Giolito made his first minor league start since getting sent back down by the Nats on Sunday with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Pitching on six days rest, Giolito allowed five runs (4 ER) on five hits and four walks against the Buffalo Bisons. He was nowhere near as good as he was in his first Triple-A start on July 19 when he tossed 6 2/3 innings without an earned run against Gwinnett.
Giolito continues to search for consistency with commanding the strike zone and the results have not been great in recent weeks. Over his last seven outings - three in the majors, four in the minors - he's surrendered 19 earned runs in 34 1/3 innings pitched, which equals a 4.98 ERA. He's given up 19 walks and five homers during that stretch, and opponents held an .814 OPS against him.
The good news for Giolito is that the Nats have done a really good job conserving his workload this season. He's averaged just over 25 innings per month and is at 100 2/3 total this year across the four levels he's pitched. If they can get him sorted out, he could still make an impact down the stretch.
Last year he posted a career-high of 117 innings and at this rate wouldn't surpass that number until the second half of August. If the Nats opt to use Giolito through the end of the regular season and maybe even the playoffs, they can likely do so without drastically upping his workload from the previous year, which is important considering his age (22) and the fact he had Tommy John surgery in 2012.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 7/26 vs. Indians - 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B
Pitching line of the week: Stephen Strasburg 7/27 vs. Indians - 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 SO, 2 BB, 110 pitches (71 strikes)
Quote of the Week
“He's been awesome about it. It's a tough situation, so I understand . Like he said, `we're here to win a championship, whatever it takes.'"
Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week
Got to shake hands today w Willie Mays... But hearing him talk trash on Dusty made it priceless!— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) July 31, 2016
Mon. - 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Strasburg vs. Bradley)
Tue. - 9:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Roark vs. Ray)
Wed. - 3:40 p.m. at Arizona Diamondbacks (Scherzer vs. Godley)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7:05 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Ross vs. Peavy)
Sat. - 7:05 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Gonzalez vs. Cain)
Sun. - 1:35 p.m. vs. San Francisco Giants (Strasburg vs. Bumgarner)