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Orioles-Nationals series preview: The Battle of the Beltway resumes

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This series doesn’t look so great on paper for the O’s.

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

These two teams are always going to be linked whether you like it or not. They share a television network. They share a beltway. Their stadiums are 45 minutes apart. Each team has one of the top 10 most recognizable faces (Manny Machado, Bryce Harper) in the game. For a while, both teams were pretty good. Now, it’s the Nationals time to shine, and we just have to sit back and take it.

Washington have won five of their last six games. The Orioles are losers of eight out of their last 12. The Nationals are climbing up the divisional standings. The Orioles, well, aren’t. The Nats have one of the best starting pitching staffs in baseball. The O’s don’t.

You may see a few familiar faces in this one. Jeremy Hellickson gets the ball for game two of the series. Mark Reynolds has been supplying a ridiculous amount of power (five home runs and a double in 29 at-bats) in a short amount of time. However, Matt Wieters will not be taking part. A hamstring strain will keep him on the shelf until late July.

Injuries are sort of a common theme for the Nationals. In addition to Wieters’ absence, Adam Eaton is out with torn cartilage in his knee. Daniel Murphy still needs to rehab his own knee trouble. Howie Kendrick will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles. Ryan Zimmerman has a back problem. The list goes on and on.

Their pitching staff, for the most part, is healthy. That is Washington’s bread and butter. While the offense has provided only mediocre support, the starters don’t typically need much help to beat their opposition. Their 2.94 ERA is second-best (Astros) in all of baseball. And they go deep in games. Their 318.1 innings are third-best (Astros, Indians) in MLB and tops in the NL. That could be improved playing in an AL park for this series.

Game 1

RHP Alex Cobb (1-6) vs LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38 ERA)
1:05 p.m. ET, MASN

The element of surprise is in favor of Cobb. Only two Nationals hitters have ever seen him before. Reynolds is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts. Matt Adams is 1-for-3 with a strikeout. Woo, that’s one for the good guys!

But this batch of Orioles hitters hasn’t exactly done great things against Gonzalez. Adam Jones is 6-for-29 all-time. Jonathan Schoop is 2-for-11. Chris Davis is 2-for-17. Of course, there is always Manny Machado to lift these guys up. He’s had some moderate success (4-for-13, three walks).

Cobb needs to break out of his funk at some point. He’s too good of a pitcher and has too much of a track record to not. This Nationals team, in its current form, is not an offensive juggernaut. This could have the chance to be a pitcher’s duel...but please do not come back here and gloat when the Orioles lose 13-3. Only I get to do that! House rules.

Game 2

RHP Dylan Bundy (3-6, 4.45 ERA) vs RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.13 ERA)
7:05 p.m. ET, MASN, MLBN

If you like to look at batter v. pitcher data, this is an even bigger advantage for the O’s. Davis has gone 11-for-30 against Hellickson, but he’s not the only one with good numbers. Jones is 16-for-44 with four dongs. Heck, even Jace Peterson has done well (3-for-9 with a double and a walk).

On the other hand, only four batters on the Nationals roster have faced Bundy. Reynolds, Harper and Trea Turner are a combined 0-for-5 with three walks and two strikeouts. Anthony Rendon is 1-for-3 with a home run.

What can you expect from Bundy? Lately he has oscillated between un-hittable to average to unwatchable. It’s not necessarily related to home versus away or even the level of the competition. Sometimes he just looks bad. It would be very Orioles to have a disappointing former player out-duel the club’s former top draft pick, so that is almost certainly what will happen.

Game 3

RHP David Hess (2-1, 4.15 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (8-1, 2.13 ERA)
7:05 p.m. ET, MASN

The series of awesome match-ups continues for Jones. He is one of the few hitters that likes to see Scherzer. All-time he is 13-for-29 with four home runs and three doubles against the righty. Davis has decent numbers (9-for-27, a double, a home run) as well. The rest of the hitters don’t fare as well. Schoop is 2-for-11. Machado is 1-for-22. And Mark Trumbo is 1-for-14.

Hess may be the most exciting thing about the Orioles at this moment. The rookie right-hander might not be world-beater, but he has looked competent every time out on the mound. The moment doesn’t seem to get to him. Keep trotting him out there every fifth day and see what he’s made of. Find out exactly how many cups he can stack.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    0 (The O’s get swept)
    (34 votes)
  • 51%
    1
    (50 votes)
  • 9%
    2
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    3 (The O’s sweep the Nats)
    (5 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now