The Cincinnati Reds hung around in the National League Central for the season’s first couple of months, but unsurprisingly, they have since fallen off and now sit in last place. They aren’t expected to improve their record in this weekend’s series as they travel to face the Washington Nationals.
Washington already is cruising to the National League East crown and is competing for the best record in the league. The Reds will need the bats to get hot because the Nationals have the superior starting pitching. However, Washington’s offense is also better than Cincinnati’s so this is a tough hill to climb for the rebuilding Reds squad.
This series will be contested from Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
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The Reds will begin the series by sending Luis Castillo to the mound. He has no major league experience but gets the call as Cincinnati has been hit hard by injuries. The Nationals will be big-time favorites as they send out Stephen Strasburg, who is 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 90.2 innings pitching.
In the second game of the series, Cincinnati will start Homer Bailey, who has missed the entire season thus far because of an elbow injury. He is a solid veteran who hopes to find success immediately. Washington will counter with Joe Ross, who is 3-3 with a 5.98 ERA on the season. He had a good outing last start but has been very inconsistent.
In the series finale, the Reds are scheduled to send out Scott Feldman. The veteran is 5-5 on the year with a 4.20 ERA. The Nationals will start Tanner Roark. He is 6-4 with a 4.88 ERA so this one could have a lot of scoring.
Thunder and Lightning
The Reds have an interesting lineup, with a lot of power in the middle of it as well as some blinding speed at the top and bottom. Sluggers Joey Votto and Scott Schebler each have 20 home runs on the season, while Adam Duvall has 16 and Eugenio Suarez has 11.
Scooter Gennett only has nine dingers, but he incredibly had four in one game earlier this month. While Votto, Schebler and Duvall lead the power hitters in the lineup, Billy Hamilton leads off and is the fastest player in baseball. He has 31 stolen bases this season and will likely lead the majors in steals this season.
Shortstop Jose Peraza is another speedster as he has 15 stolen bases on the year. The Reds are hoping to become more competitive in the future, and the combination of speed and power is intriguing.
Ryan Zimmerman’s Resurgence
After a couple of down years, the Nationals first baseman is playing lights-out baseball this year. The 32-year-old is hitting .347 with an on-base percentage of .385.
He has 19 home runs and 57 RBIs and has been a welcomed and rejuvenated force in Washington’s lineup. Zimmerman has dealt with injuries the last couple of seasons which sapped his power at the plate, but that is back this year.
In fact, Zimmerman hit a 470-foot home run back in April, the longest ever at Nationals Park. With his numbers, he looks on track to earn his second All-Star nod of his career and his first since 2009. While the performance of a player like Bryce Harper was expected for the Nationals, the addition of Zimmerman’s dominance has been a pleasant surprise, and has helped Washington keep the rest of the N.L. East at arm’s length.
The Nationals’ starting pitching is impressive and the lineup is strong. Relief pitching is the only real concern, but Washington will definitely be favored to claim this series over the Reds.
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