Nationals-Diamondbacks Series Preview: An old friend is back


May 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams (9) signals before the game against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

These days, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking like a completely different team after going 6-3 on the roadtrip and winning three consecutive series against the Padres, the best team record wise in baseball the Brewers, and the Whitesox this past weekend. The offense and in particular guys like Martin Prado and Cody Ross are finally getting hot, the starters are actually going deeper into ball games and pitching quality starts, and the defense which has plagued this team all year long is finally not making as many errors. After a horrible start, the Dbacks have taken four of their past five, have won three in a row, and have won 7 of their last 10 and are now only 10 games under .500 coming into a six game homestand against the Nationals and Dodgers. Whats most surprising is that nearly all of the team’s good play has come on the road where they are 12-10. By contrast the team is 3-15 at home and the Nationals and Dodgers aren’t exactly the easiest of teams. If it weren’t for the Dodgers this team would be a half game ahead of L.A. The Dodgers are 71- against Arizona but 13-18 against everyone else. Lets hope the Dbacks can keep the series victories rolling and play good in front of the home crowd.

The key story line in this series is the return of Matt Williams to Chase Field. Williams was a Dbacks first and third base coach from 2009 to 2013 and was instrumental in the Dbacks success in the early part of the franchise. He was an original member of the team, won a world series in 2001, and holds the record for most RBI’s in a single season with 142 in 1999. Williams is now the manager of the Washington Nationals replacing Davey Johnson who retired at the end of last season. This should be an interesting story to follow all series long especially before the first game tonight during the pregame events.

Pitching Matchups for the series:

Game 1: Jordan Zimmerman vs. Josh Collmenter

Josh Collmenter will try to right the shape at home for this team. In his last start Collmenter gave up 5 runs in the first with only one of them being earned and the Dbacks rallied back to win. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts and owns a 2.70 era against Arizona.

Game 2: Stephen Strassburg vs. Bronson Arroyo

This is probably the most interesting matchup of the series with the veteran Bronson Arroyo going up against the young kid Stephen Strassburg. Arroyo relies on movement instead of stuff and velocity while Strassburg is a hard thrower. After dealing with health issues in spring training and early in the season, Arroyo is back to his old self. In his last two starts he is 2-0 with a 0.87 era and 12 strikeouts. Strassburg has been just as good posting similar numbers: a 2-0 record and a 0.89 era. Dont expect to many runs in this game.

Game 3: Doug Fister vs. Brandon McCarthy

Fister was horrible in his 2014 Nationals debut allowing 7 runs in 4 and a third innings and he owns a 10.38 era as a result. Meanwhile despite being 1-6 to start the season McCarthy just doesn’t know why he has started this bad. He owns a 4.67 era over his past three starts and has been going deeper into ball games. He has a live arm and his velocity and stuff are better this year. Simply put McCarthy doesn’t know why he has struggled out of the gate.

Series prediction: I say the Snakes drop the opener as Jordan Zimmerman will be to much to handle. Then the Dbacks win the matchup of the series in game 2 and finally take game 3 behind McCarthy. The Dbacks will continue the trend of taking 2 out of 3 and get the homestand off to a positive note.

Simply put, this homestand in general is a chance to right the home woes and get a little closer to .500.