Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (51-82) at Washington Nationals (81-52)

Team Overviews

  Cubs Nats
wRC+ 78 (16th) 98 (4th)
BSR -0.7 (9th) -15.5 (16th)
UZR 19.1 (3rd) 19.5 (2nd)
DRS -5 (9th) -3 (7th)
SP FIP- 104 (11th) 86 (1st)
RP FIP- 113 (16th) 95 (6th)

The Nats are definitely a deserving first place team.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: Jeff Samardzija, RHP (4.03, 3.69, 3.42, 3.88) vs Ross Detweiler, LHP (3.32, 3.66, 4.22, 4.06), 12:05 PM CT

The Transformation Continues. Samardzija is at 158.2 IP, 70 more than last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Samardzija has gone seven innings in four of his last five starts, striking out 39 batters and walking seven in 33 innings. He's also given up six homers in that stretch, but they were almost all solo shots and three were on a hot day in Cincy.

When you see a guy with a below 6 K/9 and a great ERA, you have to figure the guy is a sinkerballer. He's had some help on his grounders (.265 BABIP) and balls in the air (6.9% HR/FB), but he's been a solid guy in the rotation for the Nats. It looks like he's effectively Strasburg's replacement in the postseason rotation, and most teams would be happy with a statline like Detweiler's. Of course, they'd be much happier with one of the best pitchers in baseball instead.

Tuesday: Chris Rusin, LHP (SSS) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (3.53, 3.86, 3.78, 3.93), 7:05 PM CT

Rusin actually did okay in his debut last month, striking out four and walking two while giving up one run in five innings. But there's a reason why he doesn't even have a projection. I think I compared him to James Russell in his last start, and that's going to be his career trajectory if everythings goes right for him.

I am disappoint that Edwin Jackson actually spent the whole year with the Nats. This is the seventh team he's played for in ten seasons in the bigs. He's a guy I always underrate, and has posted sub-4.0 FIPs over the past four years. The Cards picked him up for the stretch run last year and while he posted a 3.58 ERA all of his peripherals jumped in a negative direction. He pitched adequately in his first postseason start against the Phillies, but didn't make it out of the fifth against the Brewers. He was yanked after giving up three homers in two innings later in that series, and walked seven in five innings in his lone world series start.

Wednesday: Chris Volstad, RHP (6.06, 4.28, 4.47, 4.41) vs Gio Gonzalez, LHP (3.10, 2.84, 3.33, 3.45), 7:05 PM CT

It's a winning streak! Volstad is now on pace to win every game for the rest of his careeer. No wonder the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano and a Heisenberg-sized pile of cash for him.

After seemingly being traded a zillion times as a prospect, Gonzalez posted two solid years as a full-time starter with the A's before the Nats sent a load of talent their way to acquire him. They signed him to an extension as well, and Gonzalez has rewarded them with his best season yet. He walks a fair share of batters but makes up for it with strikeouts and a seeming ability to keep the ball in the park. He's posted HR/9 of 0.67, 0.76, 0.43 over the past two seasons and change. Some of it could be help from the spacious Oakland ballpark, but another big part is the fact that besides being a strikeout pitcher he does a good job at keeping the ball on the ground.

Thursday: Justin Germano, RHP (5.52, 3.74, 4.31, 3.86) vs Jordan Zimmermann, RHP (3.01, 3.62, 3.81, 3.77), 7:05 PM CT

The less said about Germano, the better. His last three starts have been about as expected, giving up 17 runs in around 15 innings. I'm not sure why he doesn't get the vitriol that a lot of the other also-rans have received this year (Mather, Valbuena, Campana, Volstad, Raley, etc.).

Zimmermann is almost the forgotten man in the Nats rotation. He was the big thing a few years ago, but then he had Tommy John surgery around the time Strasburg made his arrival, and it seems like he's been in his shadow ever since. He's yet another relatively hard throwing groundball type. I'm sensing a trend here…


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