By Doug McKinney
Nationals @ Brewers
58-39 1st in NL East 44-53 4th in NL Central
Thursday, July 26 - Sunday, July 29
Season Series Record vs. Brewers: First meeting of 2012
denotes left handed pitcher
Thursday, July 26 8:10 pm
Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73 ERA) @ Yovani Gallardo (10-4, 2.66 ERA)
Friday, July 27 8:10 pm
Ross Detwiler(5-3, 3.01 ERA) @ Mike Fiers (3-4, 1.96 ERA)
Saturday, July 28 7:10 pm
Jordan Zimmermann (7-6,2.31 ERA) @ Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.46 ERA)
Sunday, July 29 2:10 pm
Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13) @ Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.44 ERA)
Whos Hot & Whos Not
Hot: 2B Danny Espinosa .400 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI in last 10 games
Not: RP Henry Rodriguez 6.43 ERA, 6 BB in last 7 IP
Hot: RF Corey Hart - .304 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI in month of July
Not: Closer John Axford 15 ER, 4 L since June
A Series Look
Winners of five straight, the Nationals should not have a problem against the faltering Brewers in this weekends four game series. The Brew Crew has lost six games in a row, including three heartbreaking losses in Philadelphia. Milwaukees pitching staff ranks 13th in ERA in NL. They have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball.
Thought to be a postseason contender by pundits and analysts in the preseason, the Brewers are 9.5 games out of the wild card and are deemed total sellers at the trade deadline. They feature one of the biggest trading chips in SP Zack Greinke (who may be of interest to the Nationals).
Ryan Braun is still Ryan Braun and is putting up his typical numbers (28 HR, 69 RBI). But outside of him and a few complementary pieces (Hart, Aramis Ramirez), the Brewers line-up is badly missing Prince Fielder.
While the Nationals are 6-18 all-time at Miller Park and have yet to win there since 2009, there is no excuse for Washington to go into Milwaukee and not take three out of four. At the very least, they should come away with a split which would make for a 5-2 road trip.
Prediction: Nationals win 3-1
News and Notes
>MASH update: OF Jayson Werth (wrist) could return to the big leagues on Tuesday when his former team, the Phillies, are in town for a 3-game series. Werth is currently rehabbing in AAASyracuse and last night he led off playing CF.
>Odds & Ends: GM Mike Rizzo continues to say the wild RP Henry Rodriguez is assured a roster spot, but the club will have some difficult decisions to make once Werth and Chad Tracy (groin) are back. Rodriguez, who has a great deal of potential, lacks confidence as well as control on the mound. At some point you just have to cut ties If OF Rick Ankiel, who was recently designated for assignment, doesnt get picked up by the Yankees, it wouldnt surprise me if the Nationals persuaded the former pitcher to play for AAASyracuse (with a chance for September call-up). The Nationals love his defense and clubhouse presence.
Down on the Farm
>AAASyracuse: Give credit to SP John Lannan for his victorious spot start on Saturday night against the Braves. In his 7 inning, 2-run performance, Lannan stopped the bleeding after the Nats blew a 9-0 lead the night before and dropped the first game of a day-night doubleheader. That performance went a long way with not just his teammates who remain very close with the two-time Opening Day starter but the Nationals front office. He should be back up on August 3 for the Nationals doubleheader with the Marlins.
>AAHarrisburg: OF Brian Goodwin has struggled to hit since being called up, but when he does make contact, they have usually gone for extra base hits. Goodwin has two homers in seven games Fellow OF prospect Destin Hoods bat has really come to life, hitting .353 in his last 10 games.
>A (Advanced)Potomac: 2011 1st round pick SP Alex Meyer has yet to give up an earned run in Class A Advanced. The 69 righty is 1-0 with 12 strikeouts.
>A (Short Season)Auburn: 2011 1st round pick 3B Anthony Rendon is playing 3B for Auburn tonight. Expect him to play there for up to a week and then be promoted to Potomac. Rendon hit two home runs for the GCL Nationals.