Nationals Red Sox Series Preview

POTENTIAL WORLD SERIES PREVIEW AS WASHINGTON VISITS BOSTON IN FENWAY

Before the 2015 Major League Baseball season began, the Washington Nationals were co-favorites with the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League. The Boston Red Sox were the betting favorites to win the American League East, which puts them in serious consideration to win the pennant in a parity-riddled AL. That means the current Nats/Sox series will at least be featuring serious contenders down the road...and could conceivably be an early taste of October action.

Nothing's happened yet to change that line of thinking for Sox Nation. Boston's posted a winning record against an easy early draw (at Philadelphia, at the NY Yankees). Injury-riddled Washington is off to a slow start...but they were hoping to tread water out of the gate anyway until they could get everyone healthy again. Obviously...they want to avoid getting swept here so they don't dig too big a hole in the first two weeks!

Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup. We'll start with offense...then look at all three of the projected pitching matchups...

OFFENSE (2014 stats)
Washington: 4.23 runs per game, .321 on-base, .393 slugging
Boston: 3.91 runs per game, .316 on-base, .369 slugging

You have to remember to account for the Designated Hitter. So, that's actually a huge performance for Washington (third in the National League, which is really second-best because Colorado pads its stats at altitude) while Boston had one of the worst offenses in the American League. Look at those numbers again...Washington was better despite having a pitcher batting in their lineup! The Red Sox made some offseason moves that should fix what ailed them. They will have no chance to win their division if they post such pathetic offensive numbers in 2015. Washington had better stats last year...but Boston probably has the better batting lineup at the moment in this particular series.

MONDAY'S PITCHERS (2014 stats)
Jordan Zimmerman: 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 8.2 K-Rate, 6.2 IP-per-Start
Rick Porcello: 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.7 K-Rate 6.3 IP-per-Start

Porcello pitched for Detroit last season, which is a reminder that Boston made offseason moves in all aspects of play. They have too much money to settle for mediocrity! Clear edge to Zimmerman here...though that shrinks a bit once you account for the DH. Zimmerman would probably have been up around 3.00 had he been an AL pitcher.

TUESDAY'S PITCHERS (2014 stats)
Stephen Strasburg: 3.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.1 K-Rate 6.3 IP-per-Start
Justin Masterson: 5.88 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate 5.0 IP-per-Start

Strasburg has managed to post solid numbers while being a disappointment. He was supposed to be an automatic Hall-of-Famer. Yet, he's developed a reputation for doing just enough to lose close games. His record of 14-11 last season clearly didn't make the most out of his posted stats. Remember, he was throwing in front of an elite offense. Masterson crashed and burned last season with two different teams. Boston is hoping they can fix mechanical issues in a way that puts Masterson back as a productive rotation regular. Big stat edge to Strasburg. Nats faithful will really grumble if Strasburg loses to Masterson.

WEDNESDAY'S PITCHERS (2014 stats)
Gio Gonzalez: 3.57 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate 5.9 IP-per-Start
Wade Miley: 4.34 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.2 K-Rate 6.1 IP-per-Start

Gonzalez was also a disappointment last season, going just 10-10 for a league power. That ERA of 3.57 is mediocre for an NL pitcher in a weak division. And, if you know what you're doing, you should coast past 6.0 IP per start in the NL. Miley pitched for Arizona last season...so he's another arm that Boston is hoping to fix for value. An ERA of 4.34 is poor for an NL pitcher in the current era. How's that going to work in Fenway?

Great test for Boston's contending possibilities because we'll see the back end of the rotation in a stressful situation. It's very hard to see title hopes for Boston if Masterson and Miley can't improve on last season. It's very easy to see a big year if those guys can create rotation depth.

It's likely JIM HURLEY will have at least one big play in this series. But, there are some great matchups across the MLB landscape. Other big series we're paying a lot of attention to:

Seattle at the Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit at Pittsburgh
Milwaukee at St. Louis

Wow...some terrific Interleague stuff Monday through Wednesday plus that big Brewers/Cardinals series in the NL Central.

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This will be it in the NOTEBOOK until we have a special NBA report Wednesday. If there's a "must game" situation for the playoffs, we'll preview that game. If not, we'll set the stage for our daily playoff previews that will begin on Friday (the action begins Saturday). Our custom is to devote the first eight days to the eight first round matchups...one day at a time so we can read and react on the fly to early developments as we work our way through the mix. Can't wait!

It's a quiet time between MARCH MADNESS and the NBA's championship chase...but you can still GET THE MONEY seven days a week with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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