Network Notebook: Nationals/Diamondbacks Series Preview
HUGE MLB SERIES THIS WEEKEND WHEN WASHINGTON VISITS THE DESERT TO DEAL WITH THE DIAMONDBACKS
Though it's not likely to be a playoff preview the way the National League brackets will probably align, we will definitely see some playoff caliber baseball this weekend when two of the best teams in baseball square off in the Washington/Arizona showdown.
Washington was already on the short list of potential World Series teams before upgrading their bullpen with a recent trade. Arizona will likely have to settle for a Wildcard play-in game behind the unbelievable Los Angeles Dodgers. That's a shame, because the D-Backs might end the season with a better record than the other two divisional champions. And, they recently upgraded their roster with a trade as well.
Since they probably won't meet in the postseason (unless Arizona can upset the Dodgers first), let's enjoy this great baseball showcase now!
To see how the series might play out, let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats.
Washington: +107 runs, while playing 45 home games and 49 road games
Arizona: +110 runs, while playing 48 home games and 47 road games
Very impressive run differentials so far. Washington would probably nudge slightly ahead if they had identical home/road splits. That said, Arizona's played the much tougher schedule this season. Washington is in a horrible division, and hasn't run into many outsiders with winning records yet. There's a real chance that Arizona is the superior of these two teams. Did you realize before reading this that BOTH teams were better than +100 and that Arizona had the larger total?
Washington: 5.6 runs-per-game, .345 on-base, .473 slugging
Arizona: 5.1 runs-per-game, .328 on-base, .443 slugging
Big edge here for the bats of the Nats. And, the "true" edge might be bigger. We mentioned earlier this season that Arizona has played home games in a fantastic hitter's park. The offense has lousy road numbers (though getting to face Reds' pitching in Cincinnati just helped). Washington might be averaging closer to SIX runs per game if they got to play at home in this stadium. Arizona might be at 4.7 if they had to play home games elsewhere. So, as you evaluate the offensive part of the handicapping equation, give a BIG edge to the Nats. Their athletes have really been helped by the juiced baseballs.
Moving now to probable pitchers...
Scherzer: 2.01 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 12.3 K's per 9 innings
Godley: 3.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.8 K's per 9 innings
Great pitcher's duel to start things off. It's a shame they can only give out one Cy Young Award in the National League, because both Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are turning in amazing seasons. And, that's before you adjust for the juiced ball. Think about the Under. Will there be late-game pressure on Washington's new relievers in a nailbiter? Great game. Scherzer rates the edge, as he does over everyone in the NL but Kershaw.
Roark: 4.98 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.2 K's per 9 innings
This one could be very high scoring. Roark is likely to get hit hard in this ballpark by an offense that knows how to score here. Whoever goes for the D-backs will be dealing with Washington's potent bats in great scoring conditions. Put the Over on your radar. And, see if you can find value going against Roark once an Arizona starter is locked in. Fun game for a Saturday crowd.
Strasburg: 3.31 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.5 K's per 9 innings
Ray: 2.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.7 K's per 9 innings
Great pitching matchup bookend the series. Too bad Zack Greinke misses out on the fun. He just pitched Wednesday in Cincinnati. But, you can see why Arizona is such a dynamic team this season. Godley and Ray are getting outs...and Greinke is back to his old self. Definitely a spot to consider either team (particularly the host) in a bounce back if they dropped the first two games. Also, an Under may be in order if both offenses feasted Saturday.
JIM HURLEY has his eye on this series. But, he's not going to force any plays just because it's such an exciting matchup. NETWORK's job is to find you the best plays on the board wherever they pop up!
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Back with you Monday with another important series preview. Under consideration at the moment are Minnesota/LA Dodgers, Baltimore/Tampa Bay, and Boston/Seattle. We'll see how the races look Sunday night before making the call.
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