2017 Series Preview

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (53-86) at Washington Nationals (85-54), Sept. 7-10

The Phillies haven’t seen the Nationals since back in the middle of May when the Nats took two of three from the Phils. All three games were close, however, with two being decided by a run and the third by only two runs. Overall this season the Phillies have played the Nats fairly tough, going 5-7 with a positive six run differential. Of course, there was a 17-3 blowout in the Phils favor early in the season but, still, it counts.

With the Nats nearing closer by the day to clinching the division you can expect them to be playing to win. For their part the Phillies still have a ton of young players all auditioning for next year – either for the Phils or maybe even for free agency, depending on which way the Phils offseason goes.

This should be the first full series where Phillies fans get to see what might be the future line-up with Altherr and Herrera both back and Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro and J.P. Crawford. Indeed, the Phuture is here and it’s looking pretty good.

What To Expect

The Nats have one of the best offenses in baseball so as per usual you can expect them to try to take advantage of the Phils young pitching. They are tops in the National League in OPS and runs scored so it’ll be a great challenge for the Phils to keep them off the bases and away from scoring.

The good news is they will be without noted Phillie-killer Bryce Harper, so at least we won’t have to see his smug face trotting around the bases this series.

The bad news is they do have the pleasantly-faced Howie Kendrick and as Phillies fans witnessed first-hand, he can be a very tough out. Additionally there’s Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and a Trea Turner who is starting to put it all together, so the line-up looks very daunting for opposing pitchers.

But as mentioned, the Phillies are starting to look fairly formidable themselves as they start to transition into players who put up a more professional at bat – guys who actually have a decent idea of the strike zone and are patient enough to wait for their pitch. It’s a work in progress but since the all-star break the Phils are third in the NL in extra base hits and over the last 30 days they’re 11th in all of baseball in runs; the Nats are 18th.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday, Sept. 7, 7:05 PM, Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.72 ERA) vs Tanner Roark (11-9, 4.48 ERA)

Nola hasn’t been good lately, going 1-2 with a 6.87 ERA. He gave up two home runs in each of the two losses and none in the win so glean from that what you will. He hasn’t been great against the Nats for his career either. He’s 1-3 and the Phils are 2-7 when he starts against the Nats. For his part he has to figure out both Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth, who are hitting .389 and .368 respectively vs. Nola and have a combined three home runs.

Roark is 5-4 for his career against the Phils. He’s started three games this season against the Phils and boasts a 3.06 ERA in those starts. ToJo and Herrera have decent numbers against him.

Friday, Sept. 8, 7:05 PM, Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.19 ERA)

Thompson was great in his last start against the Marlins, going six innings and only giving up one run on three hits. He’s actually been decent in his four MLB starts this season, posting a respectable 3.43 ERA.

Scherzer is Scherzer. What can you say, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game right now. He did have to leave his last start with a calf contusion though and the Nats won’t hesitate to pull him if there’s even the slightest sign of discomfort. This will be his third start this season vs the Phils; he’s pitched 12 2/3rds innings and given up five earned runs. The Nats won both games by one run.

Saturday, Sept. 9, 7:05 PM, Mark Leiter (2-5, 4.74 ERA) vs Edwin Jackson (5-4, 3.62 ERA)

This will be Jackson’s first time facing the Phils as a starter – only Hernandez, Galvis and Altherr have faced him before. His last two starts have been shaky, giving up 6 earned runs in 11 2/3rds innings of work, walking five and giving up 3 home runs. Hopefully this is the Jackson the Phils see on Saturday night.

Leiter’s been up and down. His last start was awful, the one before that was okay and the one before that was a gem. Leiter needs to find some consistency if he wants to stick at the major league level. He has seven starts this year and among them are two in which he’s gone at least six innings and not given up a run and two where he’s given up more than eight runs. Hopefully this start is one where he doesn’t give up any runs.

Sunday, Sept. 10, 1:35 PM, Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92 ERA) vs TBA

Lively has actually been quite good this year. Eight of his 11 starts have been of the “quality” variety. He’s done it primarily by tightening up when runners get on. His .671 OPS with RISP is 40th and his .221 batting average against is 41st out of the 165 pitchers with as many plate appearances in the situation as he has. For context, both are better than Stephen Strasburg’s and Dallas Keuchel’s numbers with RISP.

TBA, on the other hand, has yet to actually make an appearance this season – a replacement always seems to take start instead of TBA.

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