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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Nationals series preview

The Cubs play a four-game set against a team that’s been struggling.

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Nationals are off to a rough start and their 10-17 record has them bringing up the rear in the N.L. East.

For more on the Nats, here’s Patrick Reddington, who runs our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball.

The momentum built up in the club’s back-to-back series wins on the road trip to Minnesota and New York (N.L.), was stalled somewhat when the series opener against Pittsburgh was postponed by rain on Friday, and the Nationals dropped both ends of their doubleheader at home with the Pirates on Saturday. That left them 3-11 in the nation’s capital this year after a win Sunday.

The Nats’ .252 BA as a club is middle of the pack, 13th in the majors through Sunday, their .321 OBP tied for 16th, and their .350 SLG is tied for 28th among major league teams.

Their 15 home runs as a team are 30th of 30, a full 46 behind Tampa Bay’s league-leading 57, and their 104 runs scored on the season are 27th. With runners in scoring position?

Their .255 AVG with RISP was ranked 12th, with their .316 OBP 23rd, and their .336 SLG was 28th.

Davey Martinez has done a lot of talking about needing to string hits together and come up with that mythical (seemingly) one big hit which will start to turn things around.

Most nights the Nationals are playing competitive baseball, but falling short (9-17 overall before the finale with the Pirates).

Starters Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore have both shown signs of development, and it’s fun to watch the Nationals’ young core of Luis García, CJ Abrams, Keibert Ruiz, and Victor Robles continue to grow. There’s a big focus on the prospect depth they’ve assembled in the years since they kicked off the reboot, rebuild, reset, or whatever they’re calling it now, but there are already some talented players performing and still clearly learning at the big league level, so it’s not always pretty, but if you squint just right you can see the plan GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office have in place coming together.

Fun fact

The Cubs have a .441 winning percentage against the Expos/Nationals on the road, with 138 wins and 175 losses. They have been less successful in road games against only two other current NL teams, .435 vs. the Giants (in 1,118 games) and .430 vs. the Diamondbacks (in 86 games). But the Cubs are 29-29 at Washington since 2005, the year the Nationals arrived from Montreal. This will be the 16th series between the teams in the nation’s capital, and the eighth of four games. The Cubs have won three of those four-game series, split two and lost two. They swept the games in 2009 and lost all four in 2012. (Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)

Probable pitching matchups

Monday: Drew Smyly, LHP (2-1, 3.21 ERA, 0.929 WHIP, 3.22 FIP) vs. MacKenzie Gore, LHP (3-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.296 WHIP, 3.51 FIP)

Tuesday: Hayden Wesneski, RHP (2-1, 5.24 ERA, 1.522 WHIP, 6.00 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (1-1, 4.10 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 4.84 FIP)

Wednesday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (2-2, 2.29 ERA, 1.047 WHIP, 3.79 FIP) vs. TBD

Thursday: TBD vs. Patrick Corbin, LHP (1-4, 5.74 ERA, 1.660 WHIP, 5.37 FIP)

NOTE: There have been some reports that Jameson Taillon could be activated for Thursday’s start. If not, it’ll have to be someone else called up from Triple-A (Javier Assad, perhaps) or a bullpen game. Also, it appears possible that former Cub Cory Abbott might be called up from Triple-A to be Washington’s starter on Wednesday.

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Thursday: 12:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network


Well. I have not had good luck with these predictions so far this year. The Nats, as noted, have been terrible at home and the Cubs have been at least decent on the road. I am tempted to say “three out of four” but I’ll settle for a series split.

At least, with two lefties going in this series for Washington, we should see more of Nelson Velázquez.

Up next

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field to host the Miami Marlins in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Nationals?

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  • 13%
    (22 votes)
  • 41%
    (67 votes)
  • 32%
    (53 votes)
  • 7%
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    (8 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now