2017 Series Preview

The rest of the series: Washington Nationals (95-61) at Philadelphia Phillies (62-95)

Westview_Logo_nationals_1.jpgOne win. Just one win.

That’s what separates the 2017 Phillies from losing 100 games and not losing 100 games. They have to win one of these next five games to keep from being stuck with the indignity 100 losses in what would mostly be seen as a step back from 2016. Yeah, there is new excitement with the arrival of some young talent, but overall, from April to September, it’s been disappointing. And that’s probably understating it.

Instead of reminding us of that all offseason, perhaps it would be a very small moral victory to get less than 100 losses when it looked like a foregone conclusion at the all-star break that we’d see triple digits.

What to Expect

Maybe that one win? Expecting that against one of the four or five best teams in baseball probably isn’t something to get into the habit of, but the Nats are clearly coasting into the postseason and resting some of their ailing stars.

Of course, Bryce Harper is now off the disabled list and in the Nationals’ lineup tonight. Cool.

Probable Starters

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m., Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (15-7, 2.68 ERA)

Watching Gonzalez go from former (brief) Phillie farmhand to reliable, sometimes nasty, veteran starting pitcher has been quite the process. 2017 has been a great year for him, despite the regression police banging the drum of “He’ll come back to earth in the second half.” Well, he hasn’t. His 2.68 ERA doesn’t match up with a 3.91 FIP, but he’s got his lowest WHIP (1.132) since his 21-win season in 2012 and he’s predictably pitched well in two starts against the Phillies this year (.196 BA vs., 1.07 WHIP). You’d have to imagine he’s laid claim to the No. 3 playoff starter for the Nats. Thompson has been decent in his last two starts, only giving up one run (a solo homer) in 10.1 innings. But he’s walked seven in those two games, so that’s going to catch up to him at some point unless it’s corrected.

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41 ERA)

Roark gets the rare five-start season against the Phils, missing just one series (the home-opening weekend series). That’s good work if you can get it, and he’s cashed in with a .218 BAA vs. and a 1.100 WHIP against the Phils this year in four starts so far. But we’d like to think this is a different Phils team than he faced previously, and it is, even if by names only. Leiter … is Leiter. The Phillies know what they’ve got at this point.

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