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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Nationals series preview

The Cubs open a three-game series against the visitors from Washington.

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Cubs lost three of four to the Nationals in Washington in May, including a walkoff loss May 4 on a home run by Alex Call off the only pitch Brad Boxberger threw.

The Cubs are 28-32 since that game, which isn’t great, but the Nats have fallen into last place in the N.L. East by going 24-37 since that series.

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

Washington’s GM Mike Rizzo (who grew up 6½ miles west of Wrigley Field on Waveland Avenue) said late last month the Nationals were expecting “an active, aggressive trade deadline,” yet again this season after a full-on sell-off of expiring deals (and a few years of control of Trea Turner) in 2021 and the Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) trade last year, and manager Davey Martinez acknowledged the impending deadline was on the minds of some of his players earlier this month.

“It’s a tough time of year,” Martinez told reporters a couple weeks back. “I can tell you now, we got some guys thinking about it already. We got some guys that love it here, but I always have to tell them, ‘Hey, it’s part of the game. You can only control what you can control, and then when things do happen, we bring the next guys here, we got to get them better, we’ll take a look at some of these other younger guys we’re going to get and go from there.’”

Jeimer Candelario has had a nice bounce-back year (though he’s dealing with injury issues in recent weeks), Ildemaro Vargas could probably help out a contender, Hunter Harvey has to be attractive if the Nationals are willing to trade him, ditto with their right-handed reliever Kyle Finnegan, and Carl Edwards Jr. could be attractive if he comes back a healthy version of the pitcher he was earlier this season. What will the team look like at the end of the month?

It’s been fun watching the young core of what the Nationals hope will be the next potential contender with CJ Abrams, Luis García, Keibert Ruiz, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and the significant additions in trades and the past few drafts transforming the organization, which, after the most recent picks (including Dylan Crews No. 2 overall this week) has three on the reconfigured Top 100 prospects list Baseball America just put out, so there is plenty to look forward to down the stretch and in the next few seasons.

“I think you can clearly see what we’re trying to do and the next championship-caliber club is out there in our minor league system somewhere along with our big league guys,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in late June.

“That’s kinda how we’re kinda gonna attack the trade deadline and we’re going to be careful to make the right moves and put ourselves in the position to be a factor in this thing next year.”

The team has been a pleasant surprise to follow and cover this season, with likable stars-in-the-making, the makings of a controllable, relatively affordable rotation (which could use one or two free agent arms in the next couple years), and some admirable effort from the current roster, but the near future could be very interesting, at this year’s trade deadline, (when we see what else they add to the mix) down the stretch (when we may get a look at some next-gen Nats) and over the winter (when we learn what Rizzo sees as the “right moves” for the organization right now).

Fun fact

Only three of the Cubs’ last 13 games against the Nationals have been at Wrigley Field. They went 1-2 at Washington on July 30-August 1, 2021. The next year, the Cubs took two of three at Wrigley, then went 1-2 a week later at Washington, where they went 1-3 earlier this year.


From 1969-2004, when the Nationals were the Expos, based in Montreal, the Cubs had a .531 winning percentage against them at Wrigley, compared to a combined .520 at home against all other teams.

Since the Nationals’ relocation to Washington in 2005, the Cubs are just .509 against them at home (28-27), compared to .534 against everyone else.

(Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)

Probable pitching matchups

Monday: Drew Smyly, LHP (7-6, 4.31 ERA, 1.632 WHIP, 4.82 FIP) vs. MacKenzie Gore, LHP (4-7. 4.42 ERA, 1.461 WHIP, 4.24 FIP)

Tuesday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (3-6, 6.15 ERA, 1.395 WHIP, 4.93 FIP) vs. Patrick Corbin, LHP (6-10, 4.89 ERA, 1.546 WHIP, 4.92 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (3-4, 3.57 ERA, 1.086 WHIP, 4.42 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (5-5, 4.42 ERA, 1.420 WHIP, 5.45 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wedneday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network


In order to keep their contending hopes alive, the Cubs have to win at least two of these games, so I’m going to say that’s what they will do, win two of three.

In fact, the Cubs ought to do well in this series, with two LHP going for the Nats. The Cubs are 16-11 vs. LH starters this year and have a .759 OPS against LHP (.710 vs. RHP).

Up next

The Cubs host the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Thursday evening.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    (38 votes)
  • 35%
    (48 votes)
  • 28%
    (38 votes)
  • 7%
    (10 votes)
134 votes total Vote Now