Editor's Note: I know Porcello is spelled wrong in the graphic. Didn't notice it until I was out of the house today so it won't get fixed until this evening. Apologies to all of the Porcello's affected by this tragedy.
The Nationals are headed into Fenway park for a series against the Red Sox. While the Nationals have had a less than stellar start to their season, there are still many games to be played before it is all said and done. To this point, the Nationals have won only 2 of the 6 games they have played, dropping both series agains the Mets and the Phillies. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Red Sox have won 4 of their first 6 games of the season. Both teams have benefitted from some pretty good starts from the starting rotation, but have seen seemingly mirror opposite results. Currently, the Nationals are 28th in the major leagues in OBP at a .256 clip, while the Red Sox are at 8th with a .327 clip. It goes without saying the Nationals will likely have a better team OBP over the course of the season, the simple fact is they need to get more runners out there so that they can score some more runs, but the Red Sox are currently not experiencing the same issue.If the Nationals can get the bats going and get some more runners out there, they will no doubt be a formidable opponent for the AL Red Sox in historic Fenway Park.
Jordan Zimmermann got off to a great start in 2015. In his first start at Nationals park, he paired up against the Mets' deGrom. Zimmermann allowed 1 run in 6 innings, struck out 4 and walked none. It was a typical Zimmermann start in many ways and the Nationals will need that from him again game one against Boston. The Nationals have yet to hit their stride in 2015, having won only 2 of the 6 games they've played in the young season. Jordan Zimmermann will need to have an atypical start against current Red Sox players, considering their current roster has 101 plate appearances and a .965 OPS against him. There are however, many players on the Red Sox that have not faced Jordan Zimmermann.
Jordan Zimmermann vs. Current Red Sox
Rick Porcello made his first start in a Red Sox uniform last Wednesday. Though he faired pretty well against the Phillies, he allowed 3 earned runs, which were just enough to hand the Phillies the victory. Along with the 3 earned runs, he went 6 innings, allowed 6 hits, walked 2 and struck out 4. Porcello has a decent, though not dominant history as a starter in the Major Leagues and he figures to be a guy the Nationals could be able to get the bats going against. The Nationals have a very limited sample size against Porcello, with only 4 total players having 21 plate appearances against him. With the limited exposure to Porcello, it should be interesting to see how the Nationals perform against him in the first game of the series.
Rick Porcello vs. Current Nationals
Stephen Strasburg is no doubt chomping at the bit to get back on the mound after his first start of the season. Over the course of 5.1 frames, Strasburg gave up 9 hits, 6 runs (3 earned), 3 walks, all while striking out 5. Though an Ian Desmond Error behind him was a pivotal moment in the game, the damage was done and it was one of the more forgettable games for Strasburg. It definitely didn't help that Matt Harvey, freshly back in the game after Tommy John Surgery, was simply excellent. The Nationals were unable to bail out Strasburg and ultimately dropped the series to pick up their second loss of the season. The Nationals have reason to be hopeful for a good start from Strasburg in Boston, who in 65 plate appearances against current Red Sox players have a mere .553 OPS. If it is a typical Strasburg start, no doubt Strasburg, the team, and the fans will be quite happy with the outcome.
Stephen Strasburg vs. Current Red Sox
Justin Masterson's first start of the season was excellent. He went 6 innings, allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, walked 2, and struck out 7. Masterson's effort gave the Red Sox the 6-2 win over the Phillies last Thursday and improved their record to 2-1 at the time. Justin Masterson has begun his 8th season in the Major Leagues and has done pretty well for himself, accumulating a 3.87 FIP to date. Masterson usually has a strong start to his season, so his good start against a mediocre lineup in the Phillies is not surprising. Very few of the Nationals current roster have faced Masterson, with only 5 current players having seen him in MLB action. Those 5 players have an unimpressive .550 OPS in 35 plate appearances, but with so many of the Nationals roster seeing him for the first time, it should be interesting to see how the game plays out.
Justin Masterson vs. Current Nationals
Gio Gonzalez was not bad in his first start of the season, but he wasn't stand out spectacular either. Gio made it into the 7th inning before being pulled, leaving the bases loaded. Having walked 2 batters then hitting another. Xavier Cedeno came into the game, threw one pitch and that was all the Phillies needed as the Nationals could muster only 1 run against Jerome Williams and the Phillies bullpen. Gio's final line was 6.1 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts. Not surprisingly, it was the walks and hit batter that hurt Gio, but all in all it was a pretty good start for him. Current Red Sox hitters are so-so against Gio in 92 plate appearances with a .692 OPS, with the slugging portion of that being .395. Gio will want to do his best to keep them from hitting the ball hard as that seems to be their biggest threat against him with their team average and OBP being fairly low.
Gio Gonzalez vs. Current Red Sox
Wade Miley went 5.1 frames in a game that start easily forgettable. Their game against their heated rivals, the Yankees, would end after turning into a 19 inning marathon. The positive for Miley is that he only allowed 2 runs, struck out 6 and walked only 2 in his time on the Mount. Miley spent the first 4 seasons of his career in a park that will turn pitchers into T-Ball stands, so the fact that he has faired pretty well over his career is something to tip your cap to, with a total career FIP of 3.78. On the other hand, the Nationals have done pretty well against Miley in 69 plate appearances, accumulating a .768 OPS from 13 different players currently on the Nationals roster. The Nationals will look to continue that trend and come out of Fenway having toppled Miley in the final game of the series.
Wade Miley vs. Current Nationals