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Orioles-Nationals series preview: The Beltway Series reaches its 2019 conclusion

The two clubs split the first two-game series earlier this year.

Washington Nationals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

You may have heard that the relationship between the Orioles and Nationals organizations is not the most friendly. A recent court decision over the TV rights of the D.C. franchise won’t make things any better. It’s been a different story on the field, where the clubs have remained cordial despite the best efforts of some to make the proximity of the two into a manufactured “rivalry.”

Washington enters the series on a hot streak. They have won five games in a row and 12 out of their last 14. They currently own a 73-57 record, which puts them 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East crown, but it has them in the driver’s seat of the Wild Card race.

It’s a tale as old as time for the Nationals. Despite a talented roster overall, they have been dragged down by a lackluster bullpen. The unit’s 5.94 ERA is the worst mark in the NL and better than only our very own O’s in all of MLB. They may be getting a boost in that department soon, though. Sean Doolittle and his 28 saves could return from the IL during this series. The lefty has become very hit-able this season (10.4 hits per nine) but remains a strikeout threat (10.2 K/9).

The Nationals offense is an embarrassment of riches. Their 698 runs scored are the third most in the NL. They have done it with the help of an MVP-worthy performance from third baseman Anthony Rendon (.329/.407/.617, 156 wRC+, 5.7 fWAR) not to mention healthy contributions from Juan Soto (143 wRC+), Trea Turner (28 steals) and a bounce-back campaign from Howie Kendrick (139 wRC+).

Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN 2

Aaron Brooks (3-7, 6.21 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (10-5, 3.17 ERA)

It’s not usually much fun to watch Brooks pitch, but give him some credit. He was pretty good in his most recent outing. He held the Kansas City Royals to one run while striking out four, walking one and allowing seven hits in five innings of work. The righty has faced the Nationals once already this season, but it was a brief appearance in which he served up one run in 2.2 innings of work.

Corbin has been on fire in the second half of the season. He has posted a 2.79 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 48.1 innings since the All-Star break. It’s tough to standout on a pitching staff that also features Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, but even still, Corbin has likely been a top 10 pitcher in the NL this season.

Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN 2

Asher Wojciechowski (1-6, 4.67 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41 ERA)

At the very least, Wojciechowski has earned himself a spot in the starting conversation heading into next spring training. His last five starts have not been as impressive as his back-to-back seven-inning outings at the end of July, but none of them have turned into unmitigated disasters either. That’s something. His most recent outing was a solid two-run, five-inning start. Woj did face the Nationals back in July. On that day, he took the loss while allowing three runs on six hits, no walks and seven strikeouts over 5.1 frames.

Scherzer, at age 35, is still dominating on the mound. His 5.6 fWAR is tied with Jacob deGrom atop the NL leaderboards despite the Nats righty missing several weeks due to back and shoulder issues. He also leads the league in K/9 (12.49) and xFIP (2.92). The missed time could cost him a shot at the fourth Cy Young of his career, but he will certainly still get votes, which is impressive given how long he was on the shelf.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    0 (The O’s get swept)
    (72 votes)
  • 26%
    1
    (29 votes)
  • 6%
    2 (The O’s sweep the Nats)
    (7 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now