Nats-Cubs series preview 

By James Kenney

On Monday night, the first place Nationals (39-24) host the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs (43-18) for a three game series. Both clubs have been surging as of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Nats look to redeem themselves after suffering a decisive sweep at Wrigley Field in May in a series which caught the League’s attention. After the Nats’ four consecutive losses in that series, many named the Cubs as the favorite to win the National League and possibly the World Series.

Game 1 will feature staff ace Max Scherzer (7-4, 3.57 ERA) against Kyle Hendricks (4-5, 2.90 ERA). Both have been relative surprises for their clubs. Scherzer has been utterly dominant in some starts; for example, he tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine inning game earlier this season. On other occasions, he has been extremely prone to giving up the long ball, as evident in his start against the Cubs where he gave up three home runs. Hendricks has not had sufficient run support this season, but he has given the Cubs many quality starts and given up few runs. Hendricks did not allow a run in his outing against the Nationals.

Tuesday’s game will feature Gio Gonzalez (3-5, 3.93 ERA) squaring off against John Lackey (7-2, 2.63 ERA). Gonzalez has been sliding recently, but the Nationals’ offense has picked up recently and could help him if he can limit the high powered Cubs lineup. Over the last eight games, the Nats have scored 56 runs. Gonzalez will need the run support against Lackey. In his last start, Lackey retired the final 16 batters he faced. 

On Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 3.03 ERA) will look to stay undefeated against Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36 ERA). In his last start, Strasburg uncharacteristically gave up four runs on five hits, but with ample run support, he still went seven innings and got his 10th win. 

This is a dynamic series for both teams. The Nationals will look to redeem themselves and continue their recent roll, while the Cubs will look for another series of power projection while they also continue their decimation of their opponents recently. Both clubs will show their strength and preview each other again before a potential NLCS.


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