Phillies at Nationals: Series Preview

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Jul 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Nationals pitcher Strasburg (37) throws to the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park. (PhotoCredit:

Brad Mills

-USA TODAY Sports)


FRIDAY: Jerad Eickhoff (1-3, 3.16 ERA) vs Jordan Zimmermann (13-8, 3.49 ERA) – the Phils have to be ecstatic over what they have seen thus far from Eickhoff, one of the lesser known and considered pieces of the big package received from Texas as part of the Cole Hamels deal. Eickhoff has gone 7 innings in 3 of his last 4 starts, and has delivered a Quality Start in 5 of his 6 outings since joining the rotation in late August. Zimmermann is a double-digit winner for the 4th straight season. The 29-year old righty has pitched into the 7th inning a dozen times across 31 starts, but has not reached that mark yet in September. He will be a free agent this off-season, is expected to get a big payday and have numerous suitors, and is absolutely pitching for his and his family’s future at this point.

SATURDAY: Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.84 ERA) vs Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.81 ERA) – there was much speculation about Nola possibly being shut down by the Phillies, including right here at TBOH. However, the staff and management are trusting their eyes and the pitcher’s voice and body, and letting him continue. The prized rookie who is considered a big part of the team’s future will be monitored closely for any sign of fatigue or performance decline. His last four starts have been a roller coaster, one poor followed by one outstanding. If that trend continues, this will be the poor outing. Both he and the club have to be hoping that he finishes strong, allowing everyone to enter the off-season with good memories. Strasburg’s numbers are only as mediocre as they appear because of a poor first half. Since returning from spending more than a month on the DL, Stras has made 8 strong starts, going 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA, a .176 batting average against, and has allowed just 33 hits in 52.1 innings, striking out 72 while walking just 6 batters. None of that bodes well for an extremely weak Phillies lineup.

SUNDAY: Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.93 ERA) vs Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.94 ERA) – Harang, who we nicknamed ‘Droopy Dog‘ early on in the season here at TBOH due to his resemblance to that old cartoon character, is wrapping up what will surely be the lone Phillies season of what is now a 14-year career. He was brought here as an innings eater to do just that, eat up a bunch of innings over 30+ starts in what was always expected to be a stopgap performance. He has not been good for much of the season, but he has eaten those innings. Harang has made 27 starts over which he has pitched 160.2 innings. Gonzalez was obtained by the Phils in a trade from the Chicago White Sox in the Aaron Roward-Jim Thome trade. Before he could appear in the Majors with them, the Phils returned him to the Chisox a year later in the Freddie Garcia trade. Just turned 30 years old, Gonzalez has become a consistent big league winner, reaching double digits this season for a 6th straight year. He has pitched poorly over the last month, but had a strong 12-strikeout start vs the Phillies on September 16th.