Series #12 Preview: Nats vs Cubs
Editors Note: This now has the previews for the entire series.
The Nats continue to piece things together as the season has progressed and that was very evident in the two game sweep of Detroit. The starting pitching, led by Jordan Zimmermann continues to make strides as has the fielding (4 E's in the last three series). The Nats will face the Cubs before heading out west and look to continue to put pressure on the Braves who only lead the Nats in the NL East by two games.
The Cubs come into the series with a 13-21 record, good for last in the NL Central and 26th in baseball (ahead of TOR, LAA, HOU, MIA). While fairly average all around with a .711 team OPS (16th MLB), a slightly below average 3.76 runs per game, 3.77 ERA (3.87 FIP) the Cubs have not managed to find any traction in the early part of the season and are just 4-6 in their last ten.
Game 35: Friday, May 10, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Jeff Samardzija, RHP (1-4, 3.09 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler, LHP (1-3, 2.50 ERA)
The former Notre Dame wideout, Jeff Samardzija, is off to a great start this year as long as you're not using his W/L record as a point of reference (which no one should. ever.). Through six starts his sits at 1-4 with a 3.09 ERA (3.09 FIP) while striking out 10.79 per nine innings. In his most recent outing he went six innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) while striking out five and walking three in 111 pitches.
Samardzija has had his share of success against the Nats in a brief career, going 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 0.945 WHIP and a K:BB of 13.00 in 9 appearances (2 starts). Against current Nats Jeff holds the team to a .639 OPS with LaRoche (1.250 OPS), Desmond (1.200 OPS) and Span (1.000 OPS) with any sustained success against him. Ryan Zimmerman is 0-11 against Samardzija.
Current Nationals vs. Jeff Samardzija:
After an incredibly hot start to the season Detwiler has still pitched well but has not had quite the same results. In his last start he gave up two home runs and took the loss in Pittsburgh while only lasting five innings.
In three starts against the Cubs Detwiler has compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP. Current Cubs combine for a team .807 OPS against Detwiler while Scott Hairston absolutely owns him, posting a 1.778 over nine plate appearances that have resulted in three doubles and a home run.
Current Cubs vs. Ross Detwiler:
Game 36: Saturday, May 11, Nationals Park 4:05pm, Edwin Jackson, RHP (0-5, 6.39 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg, RHP (1-4, 3.45 ERA)
Former National Edwin Jackson signed a long term deal this past offseason after the Nats declined to make him a qualifying offer of $13.5m. He's started his tenure with the Cubs with an unsightly line of 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA. It would be all too easy to look at that little bit of information and assume he's had a really bad beginning to the season. Actually, he's been pretty good to start the year but the defense has not helped him out at all. He's striking out 9.24 per nine innings (compared to a career 6.24), and has compiled a FIP of 3.20 in seven starts; a far cry from his ERA. In his last two starts he's only combined for 9.2 IP, while allowing 12 runs on 19 hits while striking out 11.
So far this season Jackson has relied mostly on his Four-Seam Fastball (90-96, 93 avg) and Slider (82-94, 86 avg); accounting for more than 80% of his pitch selection. He's also mixing in a Cutter (76-85, 81 avg) and Two-Seam Fastball (91-95, 93 avg). The interesting thing is his Changeup (85-88, 87 avg) has been thrown just over 1% of the time this year when for his career it's accounted for nearly 9% of his pitch selection.
Jackson has only faced the Nats twice, with only one start, totaling 8 IP; in those games he's 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP. He's faced plenty of current Nationals, corralling them to a .716 combined OPS. Those that have fared the best against Jackson are Span with .851 OPS in 15 PA's and Chad Tracy in 5 PA's who is 3-3 with a double and two walks off of Edwin.
Current Nationals vs. Edwin Jackson:
In his most recent start at Pittsburgh, Stephen Strasburg had a game plan that was much more in line with how we all would like to see him pitch. He was attacking the zone and while he did surrender four runs on the backs of two homeruns, he looked better than he has at points in the early season.
Strasburg has one career start against the Cubs where he went seven innings giving up one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five and not factoring into the decision. He's only faced six current Cubs for a total of 19 PA's, holding them to a .632 OPS in the small sample size. The only Cub with multiple games against Strasburg is David Dejesus who is 3-6 with a strikeout in 6 PA's (1.000 OPS).
Current Cubs vs. Stephen Strasburg:
Game 37: Sunday, May 12, Nationals Park 1:35pm, Scott Feldman, RHP (3-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez, RHP (3-2, 4.97 ERA)
A former 30th round pick by the Texas Rangers, Scott Feldman is in his ninth year in MLB. He is best summed up as a former reliever who moved into the rotation and turned out to be a serviceable starter, but isn't anything remarkable. He's been on somewhat of a hot streak in his last few starts, most recently throwing seven shutout innings against his former club, the Texas Rangers; only allowing two hits and a walk.
Feldman throws from a 3/4 arm slot and used to be a fastball pitcher but now relies mainly on his Sinker (88-94, 91 avg) while mixing in a Curveball (71-85, 76 avg), and a Cutter (85-91, 89 avg) and occasionally throwing a Changeup (83-89, 86 avg) or the his nearly extinct Fastball (89-91, 90 avg).
Feldman has never faced the Nats and the only current Nationals with any meaningful PA's against him are Span with a .576 OPS in 14 PA's and Suzuki with a .706 OPS in 17 PA's.
Current Nationals vs. Scott Feldman:
Gio Gonzalez has been very up and down to start the year, and in that fashion started his most recent outing at Pittsburgh by giving up a run and loading the bases before buckling down, getting out out the inning without any further damage and only allowing one more run in the rest of his six innings on the mound. While all Nats fans hope that another good start, this time against the Cubs, can get Gio back on a track similar to his 2012 campaign.
However, in three starts against the Cubs Gio has not fared particularly well; going 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA and a 1.684 WHIP. Current Cubs have done very well against Gio, combining for an .897 OPS over 73 PA's. Scott Hairston with a .857 OPS in 14 PA's and Starlin Castro with a 1.071 OPS, as well as Alfonso Soriano with a .929 OPS, both in 8 PA's are just a few Cubs who have rocked Gio previously.
Current Cubs vs. Gio Gonzalez:
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