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Series Preview: Cleveland Indians at Washington Nationals

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All things must come to an end

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has to go right for the Indians to make the playoffs at this point, and it’s not looking promising. If they want any hope, they are going to have to sweep the Nationals on the road. The Nationals, on the other hand, already have a postseason spot locked up, so they should just rest and take it easy this weekend, right? RIGHT? *sigh*

Team in a box

2019 Washington Nationals

Record 90-69
Record 90-69
Runs Scored 847
Runs Allowed 713
Run Differential +134
Last 10 8-2
AVG .263
OBP .340
SLG .453
OPS .793
wRC+ 102
K/9 9.45
BB/9 3.24

The Nationals have a good offense and a killer rotation. The Tribe will miss two of the best pitchers in the NL, so that’s good news. But it will still be a tough weekend at any rate.

Projected starters

Friday, September 27 7:05 p.m. ET: RHP Austin Voth (v. Zach Plesac)

Austin Voth is now at exactly 50 innings across 2018 and 2019, so he’s officially lost his rookie status. This season, he’s stepped it up in his limited playing time and looks to be a long term addition to the Nats’ rotation. Across 37.2 innings this season in 8 appearances (7 starts), Voth has allowed 14 earned runs while walking 13 and striking out 39 (ERA+ 138). He’s got a fourseam (93 mph), a curve (80 mph) and cutter (87 mph) that are good at getting swings and misses, and a change (86 mph) that can generate a lot of groundballs. His most recent start came on September 22 against the Marlins; in that game, Voth went 5.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 3 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3.

Saturday, September 28 4:05 p.m. ET: LHP Patrick Corbin (v. Adam Plutko)

A lot of people talk about Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and rightfully so. But Patrick Corbin has had a career year and should truly make teams worried come next week in the postseason. Across 197.2 innings in 32 starts this year, Corbin has allowed just 67 earned runs while walking 68 and striking out 230 (ERA+ 150). His main pitch is his slider (82 mph), and it’s a good one and fools a lot of hitters. He’s also got a sinker (92 mph) and a fourseam (92 mph) as well as a change (82 mph), the last of which gets a lot groundballs. His most recent start came on September 23 against the Phillies; in that game, Corbin went 6.0 innings and allowed 1 earned run on 3 hits while walking 4 and striking out 6.

Sunday, September 29 3:05 p.m. ET: TBD (v. Mike Clevinger)

FanGraphs believes that this will be Max Scherzer’s start, although I can’t imagine that the Nationals will waste Scherzer when they might need his assistance on Tuesday in a win-or-go-home wildcard game. Scherzer has, once again, been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Across 172.1 innings in 27 starts, Scherzer has allowed 56 earned runs while walking 33 and striking out 243 (ERA+ 157). All of his pitches are good. His fourseam (95 mph), his slider (86 mph), his change (85 mph), curve (79 mph), and cutter (90 mph) can all fool hitters badly. His most recent start came on September 24 against the Phillies; in that game, Scherzer went 6.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 10.

Lineup highlights

3B Anthony Rendon: Anthony Rendon has been the engine driving the Washington offense this season, which should come as no surprise at this point. Across 637 plate appearances in 144 games, Rendon is slashing .321/.411/.601 (wRC+ 155). He’s also hit 34 home runs, tied for tops on the team with Juan Soto. Speaking of which...

LF Juan Soto: Juan Soto had an amazing rookie campaign that saw him come in second in Rookie of the Year voting to Ronald Acuna Jr. (a worthy opponent). While Acuna Jr. had a bit of a down year (in comparison to 2018), Soto kept producing at virtually the same level he did last year. Across 648 plate appearances in 147 games, Soto is slashing .283/.401/.550 (wRC+ 143). He also added 12 more home runs in comparison to 2018, so it seems that Soto may be a current and rising star for the Nationals as well.

2B Howie Kendrick: All teams need a bit of veteran grit, and that’s where Howie Kendrick comes into play. Despite being 36, Kendrick has continued to produce over the past few seasons, including this one. Across 366 plate appearances in 120 games, Kendrick is slashing .345/.396/.576 (wRC+ 147). His 17 home runs and .576 slugging mark would both be the best single season marks of his career.

Washington Nationals roster

FanGraphs

Poll

Are the Cleveland Indians making the playoffs?

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  • 11%
    Yes
    (12 votes)
  • 88%
    No
    (93 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now