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Yankees at Nationals: Series Preview

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Are the Yankees allowed to take Harper with them?

Washington Nationals  v Los Angeles Dodgers
Marvel: Avengers is the most ambitious crossover event in history. Me: ^
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

After a pair of rough losses to end the week, the Yankees took the last two games against the Athletics to bounce back into the win column and take the series victory. Fresh off winning their seventh consecutive series, the Yankees now make a quick stop in America’s capital to start their Bryce Harper recruiting tour before heading to Kansas City to take on the Royals this weekend because Missouri loves company.

After a slow start, the Nationals have been playing well of late, but the Yankees come in to town as arguably the hottest team in baseball. Still though, the Yankees won’t have an easy time ahead of them as the Nationals will send out two of their best arms, including the one no one ever wants to face. Here’s what to expect from the pitching match-ups.

Game One: Masahiro Tanaka (4.66 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (2.22 ERA)

Tanaka takes the ball after a four-run, 5.1 inning outing against the Red Sox. After a few stinkers earlier in the season, Tanaka had been pitching well of late until his most recent start against Boston where he just didn’t have his best stuff. Fortunately, he was able to keep battling and keep the Yankees in the game.

Gio Gonzalez gets the ball for the Nationals. Last year, Gonzalez pitched 200 innings for the first time since 2011 (195+ IP in 2012 and 2013 though) and finished sixth in Cy Young voting. He’s kept that going so far this year. In his most recent start, he kept the Padres in check for six innings, having allowed just one run. On Sunday, the Yankees became the first team since the 2003 Rangers to have four or more players with 10 or more home runs through 40 games, but the Bombers will have their work cut out for them as Gonzalez has only allowed one home run in eight starts this year.

Game Two: CC Sabathia (2.23 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (1.69 ERA)

CC Sabathia hit his first bump in the road this season in his last start against the Red Sox. He went only four innings and allowed four runs in a game that ultimately capped the Yankees’ 17-2 stretch and ended the eight-game win streak. Outside of that, the veteran has been simply outstanding this year. Hopefully, Sabathia can bounce right back during this game and keep the Yankees in it because the offense will have their work cut out for them.

Max Scherzer gets the ball for the Nationals in the series finale. That’s really all I have to say, right? Don’t get me wrong, baseball is the sport that most easily defines weird stuff happening, but Scherzer is something else. I’m still mad the Yankees didn’t pursue him when he was a free agent. Anyway, he’s coming off back-to-back Cy Young winning seasons and is arguably one of the top three pitchers in baseball. With his 14.0 K/9, Scherzer will look to feast on the Yankee offense, like he does with every other offense.

The pitching match-ups don’t seem to favor the Yankees on paper, but New York also just took series victories from the Angels, Astros, Cleveland Baseball Team, and Red Sox during this stretch, so they can go toe-to-toe with any of them.

While the Nationals’ starters can be a handful, their bullpen outside of closer Sean Doolittle hasn’t been great. If the Yankees can at least make the starters work, there will be chances for some more late-inning heroics.

Both games will be televised on YES, but ESPN will also be broadcasting the Wednesday night game as well.

Also, the Capitals are up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning and the series heads to DC for Game Three tonight, so maybe the Nationals’ players will be too distracted by that to focus on the baseball game. Do I really believe that’s how this works? No, I don’t. Did I just want an excuse to just mention that the Capitals are up 2-0 in the series because I’m just shocked? Yes, yes I did.