The New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals both head towards the weekend red hot, but only one team can stay that way. The two teams collide in Washington for a three-game series starting this Friday in our MLB interleague spotlight matchup of the weekend.
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Washington Nationals bats starting to come around
Last week, we highlighted the Washington Nationals as they prepared for their series against the Boston Red Sox; and they haven’t lost a game since, sweeping both the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays on the road. Riding that six-game winning streak, the Nationals are now 38-23 on the MLB moneyline overall this season and are 15-6 straight up over their last 21 games.
The only question mark on this team was its offense, and that has finally started to come around. Over the last nine games (in which Washington is 8-1), the Nationals have averaged 4.9 runs per game, scoring at least four runs in all eight wins. Bryce Harper has given the team just what it needed, batting .303 with 30 runs, seven home runs and 19 RBI in 41 games so far.
Meanwhile, the team’s pitching continues to be exceptional. Gio Gonzalez (2.35 ERA), Stephen Strasburg (2.45 ERA), Jordan Zimmermann (2.91 ERA), and Edwin Jackson (3.02 ERA) have all been exceptional, and the bullpen has been as well. The Nationals enjoy the best Team ERA in all of baseball at 2.94.
Yankees starting to look like a major contender
The AL East is still wide open, but the New York Yankees are starting to look like a serious contender out in the American League. The Yankees entered Wednesday on a five-game winning streak with the best record in the AL at 36-25 on the MLB moneyline. The Yankees entered their night game against Atlanta with a 15-4 record in their last 19 games.
Andy Pettitte has really helped solidify the pitching staff of the New York Yankees. Despite turning 40 years old this Friday, the veteran still has plenty of life left in his arm, compiling a 2.81 ERA with 40 strikeouts over six starts so far this season. Hiroki Kuroda (3.46 ERA) has also pitched well of late, and while we still haven’t seen him at his best this season, CC Sabathia (3.80 ERA) continues to keep games close. Ivan Nova is 8-2 in 12 starts despite a 4.76 ERA.
Offensively, the Yankees rank eighth in the majors averaging 4.8 runs per game. The offense is clearly doing enough to win games of late, but it seems that different players are always carrying the load on different nights. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher have all hit at least 10 home runs already this season; that’s a pretty deep lineup. We haven’t quite seen this team put it all together at the same time on offense yet this season, and it will be very scary for opposing pitchers if that day comes.
All hot streaks must eventually come to an end
Looking at the projected pitching matchups for this series, Gio Gonzalez will face Phil Hughes on Friday, Jordan Zimmerman will face Andy Pettitte on Saturday, and Edwin Jackson will face Ivan Nova on Sunday.
Both teams enter the weekend set on a roll, but only one can walk away a winner in the series. These two teams don’t have much history as they’ve played only six times since 2006; the Nationals have beaten the Yankees in four of their last five meetings though. Each of the last four games between these two teams has gone UNDER the total. It will be very interesting to see how one of the league’s best offenses fares against the league’s best pitching staff.
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