The Cubs swept a four-game series against the Nationals at Wrigley Field last month. Even so, Patrick Reddington, who runs SB Nation's Nationals site Federal Baseball, agreed to come here and update us on his team:
The Cubs' sweep of the four-game set with the Nationals in Wrigley Field got Dusty Baker a little fired up. His takeaway? "What I take away from this series is that we'll see them at our house and that I'd love to come back here in the playoffs. They got everything they needed in this series and it's hard to keep just getting whatever you want, whatever you need." Washington is 19-12 in the 31 games since they were in Chicago, and on a bit of roll with 10 wins of their last 13 after the three-game sweep of the Phillies. Heading into this week's series in D.C., the Nationals and Cubs are the top teams in the National League. They're first and second in run differential in the N.L. too. Some of the hitters who were struggling during last month's series have shown signs of life in recent weeks. Anthony Rendon had a .317/.408/.538 line over the last 29 games heading into Sunday's game with the Phillies, with nine doubles and four home runs in 120 plate appearances. Ryan Zimmerman, whose struggles in Chicago let the Cubs avoid Bryce Harper all weekend and not pay for it, had a .267/.333/.573 line with three doubles and six home runs over the last 21 before Sunday's game. Danny Espinosa, who was thought to be a place-filler for top infield prospect Trea Turner, has hit eight of his 11 home runs this season in his last 15 games while Turner remains in Triple-A. Jayson Werth hit a walk-off winner in Sunday's win. Harper was struggling before he got to Chicago, and the way the Cubs treated him did seem to break him for a while, but he's picked it up recently too. They've been beating up on some struggling teams recently, so it will be an interesting test of where they're at right now and there's no better test than the N.L.'s best.
The Cubs have won six straight games against the Nats dating back to June 6, 2015 and won three of four at Nationals Park last year.
Monday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (4-5, 2.90 ERA, 0.937 WHIP, 3.04 FIP) vs. Max Scherzer, RHP (7-4, 3.57 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 3.96 FIP)
Tuesday: John Lackey, RHP (7-2, 2.63 ERA, 0.927 WHIP, 2.98 FIP) vs. Gio Gonzalez, LHP (3-5, 3.93 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 3.47 FIP)
Wednesday: Jason Hammel, RHP (7-2, 2.36 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 3.68 FIP) vs. Stephen Strasburg, RHP (10-0, 3.03 ERA, 1.070 WHIP, 2.75 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Monday: 6:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, ESPN (outside Chicago and Washington markets)
Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Washington markets)
Wednesday: 3:05 p.m. CT, WGN (MLB Network joins in progress at 5 p.m. CT)
Learned my lesson from the last series. Besides, the Nats are a much better team than the Braves, and the Cubs face Strasburg on Wednesday. He's been outstanding this year. This series will be a good test for the Cubs, even though they swept the Nats at Wrigley. Two of three.
The Cubs are off Thursday, then open a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday at Wrigley Field.