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Nationals vs. Yankees: Everything you need to know about the biggest series of the year so far

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Nationals vs. Yankees: Everything you need to know about the biggest series of the year so far

Coming off their four-game sweep of the first-place Diamondbacks, the Nationals come home to another first-place team: the New York Yankees. No two teams have been hotter over the last two weeks, with the Nats and Yankees being the only teams to have an 8-2 record or better over their last 10. Here's what to look for when the 27-time World Champs come into town. 

Matchups 

Tuesday 5/15
Pitchers:
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-2 4.29 FIP) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-2 2.84 FIP)
Start Time: 7:05 PM
Where: Nationals Park, Washington D.C. 
How to watch: MASN, MLB.tv (out-of-market only)
Radio Info: 99.1 FM, Bloomburg Radio

This will be the second time in his career that Tanaka has faced the Nationals. The only other time was in 2015, when he threw seven innings while allowing one earned run on five hits, outdueling Max Scherzer in the Yankees' 6-1 win. On the other side, Gonzalez has had mixed results against the Yankees. When in Oakland, Gonzalez posted a 5.18 FIP against New York, while hitters slashed .247/.382/.406 against him. Since coming to D.C. Gonzalez has fared better, posting a 3.84 FIP in 17 innings against them. 

Wednesday 5/16 
Pitchers: LHP CC Sabathia (2-0 3.62 FIP) vs. Max Scherzer (7-1 1.75 FIP)
Start Time: 7:05 PM
Where: Nationals Park, Washington D.C. 
How to watch: MASN, MLB.tv (out-of-market only)
Radio Info: 106.7 The Fan 

After originally planning to give him an extra day of rest, the Nationals reversed course, announcing that Scherzer will pitch against the Yankees on Wednesday on normal rest. Scherzer's only pitched once against New York while with the Nats, in the aforementioned 6-1 loss. For the Yankees, starter C.C. Sabathia has pitched against the Nats three times in his career - the most recent coming in 2009. He's had the Nats' number in years past, posting a 3.15 FIP and .181/.247/.247 slash line against them. 

Keys to the series

1. Keep the ball in the park

The Nationals' bullpen has been plagued by the long ball all season. They're allowing 1.18 homers per nine innings, which is the 8th-most of any team in baseball. Their HR/FB rate is sitting 14%, which is the 5th-worst in baseball this year. 

The Yankees, as you've surely heard, hit a whole bunch of home runs. This season, they're 1st in ISO, 2nd in HRs, and 3rd in HR/FB (15%). Sean Doolittle's performance against the Yankees' power-hitting will be what wins or loses this series. 

2. Continue hitting right-handed pitching well

Against righties this year, the Nats are hitting .245/.337/.424 - noticeably better than the .227/.310/.636 line they're posting against lefties. Their 106 wRC+ against right-handed pitching is the 6th best in all of baseball. Of the Yankees' 366 innings pitched this year, 269 of them have been from right-handers. The Nats are going to see a lot of right-handed pitching

3. Consistent bench production

Over the last two weeks, Wilmer Difo is hitting .333/.429/.556, with Howie Kendrick not far behind at .300/.327/.360. Matt Adams has seven home runs during that span. With Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and David Murphy all missing extended time with various injuries, the Nats have still put up a top-10 offense in baseball this season. Facing a Yankees rotation that's top-3 in WAR and the best bullpen in baseball will be one of the bigger challenges of their young season. 

MORE NATS NEWS:

- State of the Nats: How's the 1st month gone?
- HR track: Every Harper dinger
- Gallery: MLB's best alternate jerseys

 

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DC Forecast: Storms in weather forecast for Nationals series against Phillies, Braves

DC Forecast: Storms in weather forecast for Nationals series against Phillies, Braves

With Bryce Harper and the Phillies coming to Washington, D.C., for a four-game series against the Nationals starting Monday, the weather isn't too happy.

Between Monday and Thursday, scattered showers and thunderstorms could threaten the Nationals and Phillies' matchups and cause delays, cancellations and postponements, according to NBC4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts. 

But, when the Atlanta Braves get into town Friday, the sun should be out and humidity will be down, with temperatures in the upper-70s by the 7:05 p.m. first pitch. 

The seven games in seven days, with four games against the Phillies and three against the Braves, could be a defining stretch for the inconsistent Nationals. Facing two NL East foes, Washington has the chance to make up much-needed ground on the first-and second-place teams in the division.

The Nats enter the week 33-38, 8.5 games back from the NL East first-place Atlanta Braves and 6.5 games back from the Phillies (39-32). 

 

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Nationals Roundup: Washington splits four-game stand with Diamondbacks

Nationals Roundup: Washington splits four-game stand with Diamondbacks

The Washington Nationals moved to 33-38 after splitting the four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. Now, Bryce Harper and the rival Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a four-game stretch that can prove vital to Washington and the team's better play.

Player Notes:

Stephen Strasburg gave up six runs over five innings on nine hits over five innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday. His ERA is now 3.75 with 115 strikeouts in 96 innings with a 1.06 WHIP, but can rebound Thursday against the Phillies.

He's not yet 21, but Juan Soto is playing like he's been in the league for years. The outfielder went 2-for-4 with his 11th homer on Saturday. He now has 41 RBI on the season to go along with an OPS of .885 over 62 games.

Adam Eaton went 3-for-3 with an RBI, two walks and a run scored in the Nationals’ lopsided 15-5 win on Sunday. The 30-year-old outfielder is fully healthy, hitting .280/.365/.398 with 41 runs scored, 19 RBI and five steals in 302 plate appearances.

Superstar Anthony Rendon went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and three runs scored in the Sunday win, which included his 16th longball of the season. He'shitting .321/.415/.660 with 52 runs scored, 50 RBI and one stolen base across 246 plate appearances this season.

Injuries:

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, could return mid-June

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

C Kurt Suzuki: Clavicle, sidelined

RP Kyle Barraclough: Biceps, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Monday 6/17: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Tuesday 6/18: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Wednesday 6/19: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Thursday 6/20: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

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Source: Rotoworld