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Orioles-Nationals series preview: Let the Battle of the Beltways begin

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For the first time this season, the O’s will travel to our nation’s capital to face off against their regional rivals.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles
Pedro Severino settles in at second base after a double against the Nationals.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles will roll into Washington, D.C., this evening to begin a three-game series against their National League counterparts the Nats. Like Baltimore, Washington currently resides at the bottom of their division. These two teams have the same number of wins at the moment, but the O’s have three more losses and a much worse run differential (-41 versus -18).

Washington is led by shortstop Trea Turner, who is slashing .327/.371/.562 with 10 home runs and eight stolen bases, and outfielder Juan Soto, who has a .279/.392/.423 batting line plus more walks than strikeouts. Right now, the Nationals have the best batting average in the NL (.252) and the fifth best OBP (.321), so Baltimore’s pitching staff will have their hands full.

The Nats are middle of the pack in several pitching categories, including eighth in ERA at 4.06 and seventh in WHIP at 1.24. Their pitching staff is headlined by ace Max Scherzer, who the Orioles will luckily miss over the weekend. The Birds will face a couple of Nats starters with inflated ERAs, but one of those pitchers is an accomplished star making his first start since mid-April.

Game 1: Friday, 7:05 PM

RHP Jorge Lopez (1-4, 6.35 ERA) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 6.30 ERA)

Despite an uptick in velocity early this season, Orioles starter Jorge Lopez has been unable to maintain any type of consistency on the mound. In his last two starts, Lopez has allowed six runs (five earned) over 7.2 innings. Like most of the O’s roster, Lopez has fared better on the road this season, with a 4.40 ERA in away games and a 7.78 ERA in home games. He has yet to pitch into the seventh inning this year, with his longest outing coming two starts ago against Boston (5.2 innings).

The Nationals are expected to activate Stephen Strasburg from the injured list in advance of tonight’s series opener. He hasn’t pitched since April 18, when he fell victim to right shoulder inflammation. In his two starts this season, Strasburg allowed zero runs over six innings and eight runs (seven earned) over four innings. Expect to see Maikel Franco in the lineup against Strasburg, considering his .360 batting average against the right-hander in 25 career at-bats, including two home runs.

Game 2: Saturday, 4:05 PM

LHP Bruce Zimmermann (2-3, 4.79 ERA) vs. LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 3.80 ERA)

Having rejoined the Orioles from Triple-A only five days ago, Zimmermann was a godsend the last time he toed the rubber. The same day he was recalled, the left-hander pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball in relief to help the O’s secure a 10-6 victory over the Yankees. He will look to continue that success in the middle game of the series against the Nats.

Zimmermann will be opposed by veteran left-hander Jon Lester, who is in his first season with Washington after spending the last six years with the Cubs. The 37-year-old’s current 3.80 ERA is at odds with a few of his other stats, like his 1.41 WHIP, .291 BAA, and 4.63 FIP. Plus, the Birds have fared better against lefties than righties this year, with OPS marks of .754 and .639, respectively.

Game 3: Sunday, 1:05 PM

RHP Matt Harvey (3-4, 5.93 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (2-3, 6.10 ERA)

The Dark Knight will get another opportunity to right himself this Sunday afternoon, and it’ll come against a familiar opponent. In his career against the Nats, Harvey has a 3.70 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 17 games (16 starts). In eight career starts at Nationals Park, he has a 4.91 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. While Harvey started the 2021 season well enough, his performance has deteriorated more recently. Two starts ago, Harvey allowed seven runs over 4.2 innings, and in his most recent start, he gave up six runs over 1.2 innings.

The O’s get to face another lefty in the series finale, as Patrick Corbin gets the ball for the Nationals. In his third year with Washington, Corbin is carrying an ERA north of six. But his pitching has improved as of late, with seven runs allowed in his past three starts over 18 innings. That’s good for a 3.50 ERA over that timespan. If you’re looking at the hitter-pitcher matchups in this one, Freddy Galvis is batting .308 in 13 career at-bats against Corbin.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    3 (clean sweep)
    (22 votes)
  • 23%
    2
    (47 votes)
  • 50%
    1
    (101 votes)
  • 15%
    0 (get swept)
    (32 votes)
202 votes total Vote Now