Phillies Hit Nation’s Capital to Face Nats

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso

It was just under a week ago that the Phillies and Nationals were forced to put their series finale on hold for another month. Now, the two teams are back in action against each other. Only this time, the venue has changed. After playing quite a few games at home, the Phillies face the Nationals in D.C. for the first time since the end of May.

There's not much to say about the Nationals just a week after they visited Philly. The rotations for the series will be nearly identical. The players to watch for the Nats are also still the same. Ryan Zimmerman continues to lead the offense, as does Mike Morse. Morse missed the first game of the series in Philly, but was one of the Nats only contributers in the Phillies' 11-3 win last Saturday. Also watch for Danny Espinosa, who had a strong opener last Friday, and of course former Phillie Jayson Werth. Werth's season has not been great, but he has been known to have some great games in Washington. You may recall a two-homer game for Werth last September, the night the Phillies clinched their fourth straight division title.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series.

In the opener, Roy Oswalt (5-7, 3.84 ERA) goes against Livan Hernandez (7-11, 4.21 ERA). Oswalt's last start was Saturday against the Nats, where he lasted seven innings allowing three runs in his first win since June 12th. Oswalt is 1-1 against the Nationals this season. In 19 career games and 17 starts, Oswalt is 6-4 with a 3.17 against the Phils this season with last week's win. Hernandez' last start was last Friday, where he held the Phillies to no runs in 6 2/3 innings. He is 2-1 against the Phillies this season. In his career against the Phillies, he is 13-11 with a 3.62 ERA in 31 career starts.

In the middle game, Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 3.25 ERA) takes on John Lannan (8-8, 3.55 ERA). Kendrick's last start was a brilliant shutout performance against the Rockies, where Kendrick pitched eight innings. Kendrick is 2-3 with a 6.36 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the Nationals. Lannan's last start came last Saturday against the Phillies. He allowed seven runs in that game, but only one was earned, over three innings, before leaving with a knee injury after a nice glove flip play for an out. He is 1-3 against the Phils this season. In his career against the Phillies, a total of 15 starts, Lannan is 1-11 with a 5.84 ERA.

In the finale, Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.53 ERA) gets the start against Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 4.22 ERA). This was supposed to be the matchup for Sunday's game, before it was postponed. Halladay started Tuesday, and took the loss after allowing two runs in the ninth inning to the D'Backs. He allowed three runs in a complete game loss. In 15 career games and 14 starts against the Nats, Halladay is 11-1 with a 2.21 ERA. Wang picked up a win in his last start despite allowing four runs over 6 1/3 innings. This will be just his fifth start of the season. Wang has faced the Phillies once in his career. In a relief appearance, Wang took a no-decision, allowing two runs over three innings.

August 19 – Phillies 2, Nationals 5
August 20 – Phillies 8, Nationals 3
August 21 – Phillies 5, Nationals 0

The Phillies have struggled in some of the opening games of series lately. With the way Livan Hernandez handled them last time, and won his own ballgame at the plate, there's no reason to doubt him in the opener. I don't like Roy Oswalt's chances in the opener. Oswalt looked good against this team a week ago, but he has struggled in this ballpark at times, and as he tries to return to form, Hernandez will need to be hit around a bit for the Phils to have a chance.

The next two games look like easy ones for the Phils. Kyle Kendrick might be making a spot start, but with John Lannan on the mound against the Phils' offense, he's got a great chance to win. Lannan has plenty going against him in this one. He has never fared well against the Phillies. He injured his knee last time out, and who knows, that could nag. And with the Phillies being forced to skip Cole Hamels in the rotation, the Phillies have been known to break out the bats for a starter who could use it.

The finale looks good for the Phillies too. Wang is still on the comeback trail, and with only a few runs, the Phillies could hold a huge advantage. The Phils also have their ace going, and I have a good feeling some special things could happen. Doc has yet to throw a shutout this season. He has great numbers against the Nationals in his career, and is coming off a rough ninth inning loss, a game he admits he should have finished then. Whenever he feels he has something to prove from mistakes he made before, he usually rises to the occasion.

The Phillies follow this series by returning home for three games against the New York Mets. After that, they face the Florida Marlins for three games.

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