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New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals: Series Preview

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The Bombers round out their nine-game homestand with a three-game set against the Nationals.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Yankees have a quick turnaround after taking two of three from the Astros. They welcome the Nationals into town for their second interleague series of the season following the two-game blitz they split with the Braves. Washington sits fourth in a dismal NL East — though only a game-and-a-half back with a losing record. They do get stronger as uber-star Juan Soto was recently reinstated from the Injured List after missing ten games with a shoulder strain. Let’s take a look at the probable starting pitchers for this three-game set.

Friday: Jameson Taillon vs. Patrick Corbin

Jameson Taillon gets the ball for the series opener. He recorded his first win in exactly two years last time out against the Tigers, throwing five strong innings of three hit, one run, three walk, eight strikeout ball. For the year, he is 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA, 4.23 FIP, and 29 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.

He had struggled in previous starts with finishing at-bats after getting to two strikes, and acknowledged he did a better job of retiring batters this time around. Importantly, he lived at the top or above the zone with the four-seamer and largely avoided the misses that leaked into the hitting zone, an issue which plagued him in three of his first four starts.

Facing off against Taillon, Patrick Corbin will make his first appearance in Yankee Stadium since their failed pursuit of his services in 2019. He sparkled in his lone start against the Yankees as a Nat, allowing only one run on two hits while striking out eight in the 2020 season-opening series in Washington. Results haven’t been as pretty for the lefty so far in 2021, as he owns a 1-3 record with an 8.10 ERA, 7.52 FIP, and almost three home runs per nine innings across 23.1 frames.

Saturday: Corey Kluber vs. Max Scherzer

In the most highly anticipated matchup of this series, former Cy Young winners Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer face off. The pair share five awards between them — two for Kluber and three for Scherzer — and each was considered the best pitcher in their respective league in the mid-2010s. And as if this marquee pitcher’s duel couldn’t get any more exciting, both Kluber and Scherzer are coming off the best starts of their respective seasons.

Speaking of that start by Kluber, he twirled an eight inning, two hit, 10 strikeout shutout against the Tigers. We haven’t seen a Kluber this dominant since at least 2018, and it can’t just be explained away by blaming a poor-hitting Tigers squad. Kluber had his changeup really working on Sunday, recording seven of his strikeouts with the offspeed and collecting 13 whiffs, nearly doubling his previous career-high of seven whiffs on the change in 2013. That gem brought his season numbers to 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA, 4.19 FIP, and 29 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.

As for Scherzer, he pitched a five hit, one run, nine strikeout complete game — and then quickly rushed to the hospital in time for the birth of his third child. He has pitched to typical Mad Max form through his first six starts, sitting at 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA, 3.65 FIP, and 47 strikeouts in 39 innings. That said, the Yankees have had some success against him. He has given up four earned runs in each of his two starts against the Bombers as a Nat.

Sunday: Domingo Germán vs. Joe Ross

The final game of the nine-game homestand is an afternoon affair on Sunday. Domingo Germán gets the ball for his sixth start of the season. He has turned in mixed results so far, with two decent starts against the light-hitting Cleveland and Baltimore lineups, and three mediocre outings against the more credible Toronto, Tampa, and Houston squads. His command has been largely suspect and the curveball is the only pitch which hasn’t gotten crushed. On the season, Germán is 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA, 4.83 FIP, and 25 strikeouts in 25 innings.

His scheduled adversary is Joe Ross, filling in on the starting staff for Stephen Strasburg, who has been on the injured list since mid-April with shoulder inflammation. He has actually performed quite well outside of one horror outing against the Cardinals — when he surrendered 10 earned runs in 4.1 innings — having allowed only three runs in his other four appearances combined. That start alone ballooned his season numbers to 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA, 5.70 FIP, and 21 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.