Coming off a much-needed rest day, the Yankees are in Washington, D.C. to kick off a brief two-game series against the Nationals tonight. Both teams hold a 22-17 record, but each team has gotten their by playing very different brands of baseball of late. The Nationals, who were many people's pre-season pick to win it all this year, due in most-part to their obscenely deep starting rotation, stumbled out of the gate. After starting the 2015 campaign 7-13, they are on a 15-4 tear thanks not only to improved pitching, but a formidable display from their offense, lead by Bryce Harper.
Already in his fourth big-league season, it was always known that Harper was forgoing the standard minor league climb up the developmental ladder in favor of cutting his teeth at the major-league level and it would be a matter of time before he started to realize his massive potential. The growing pains may be over, because a quarter of the way through the season, he leads the bigs in roughly a dozen offensive categories, in large part to his last 11 games in which he's hit 9 homers and driven in 22 runs to the tune of a 2.038 OPS. Harper is 5-for-13 off of tonight's starter Nathan Eovaldi, but has also struck out 4 times against him.
Nate was handed his first loss of the season in a so-so performance against the Rays. He went 7.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and giving up 2 walks. He's had some experience against the Nats after spending the last few years in the NL East with the Marlins. He's 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 7 outings. Overall on the year, Eovaldi is 3-1 with a 4.14 ERA.
The Nats will send Gio Gonzalez to the hill. The 29-year-old lefty is coming off a loss of his own, getting touched up for 5 runs in 5 innings against the Diamondbacks. According to ESPN.com, Gonzalez has lost his last 5 starts against the Yankees and has posted a 4.25 ERA, though he's only seen them once since becoming a Nat in 2012. Overall, he's been fairly hit-or-miss this season, going 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.535.
Without the DH, the Yanks will be without Alex Rodriguez for the next two games so there will be added pressure on what's recently been a weak-hitting lineup to produce runs against the National's potent offense. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM and can be seen on YES and MLB Network.
|NEW YORK YANKEES||WASHINGTON NATIONALS|
|Jacoby Ellsbury - CF||Denard Span - CF|
|Brett Gardner - LF||Ian Desmond - SS|
|Chris Young - RF||Yunel Escobar - 3B|
|Mark Teixeira - 1B||Bryce Harper - RF|
|Brian McCann - C||Ryan Zimmerman - 1B|
|Chase Headley - 3B||Wilson Ramos - C|
|Jose Pirela - 2B||Danny Espinosa - 2B|
|Stephen Drew - SS||Michael Taylor - LF|
|Nathan Eovaldi - RHP||Gio Gonzalez - LHP|