Nationals vs A's: Series Preview Q&A with Athletics Nation

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals and Oakland A's start a three-game set in O.co Coliseum tonight at 10:05 pm EDT. Doug Fister makes his first start with the Nationals tonight against former Nats' starter Tommy Milone. Here's a series preview with Athletics Nation...

What are our impressions of former Bay Area star Matt Williams in his first month-plus as a manager? How have the Nationals' bench options done with Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup? Would you sign Jayson Werth again knowing what you know now? What does the future hold for Danny Espinosa?

Was the Doug Fister trade as big of a steal for the Nats as it seems? Is Tanner Roark for reals? Which Nats starter gets the nod in a must-win game? Do you want Fernando Abad back? Or do you prefer Jerry Blevins? Blake Treinen: Starter or reliever? Would you undo any of the trades with the A's if you could?

We "talked" about all that and more with the SB Nation's Oakland A's site, Athletics Nation, as a preview for this weekend's three-game set in the O.co Coliseum. Never sell the naming rights, Nationals. Thanks. Here are two questions of the ten we answered for them. Check out the rest through the link included below...

"He's a sinkerball/slider-type of guy who throws a lot of ground balls. Doesn't walk anybody and pitches a lot of innings. Controls the running game." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo on Doug Fister on 106.7 the FAN

Athletics Nation (AN): The Doug Fister trade: A total steal from the Tigers, or a fair swap in which you gave up prospects who you miss?

Federal Baseball (FBB): It all depends on how you view Robbie Ray, and how he turns out. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski considered him the centerpiece of the deal. He's already made his MLB debut (and he was impressive) and at 22 hopefully has a long career ahead of him. The Tigers also had Drew Smyly ready and waiting to take over Fister's spot. If Fister is healthy though, and he's finally making his 2014 debut tonight after dealing with elbow inflammation and a lat strain early this season, he's a perfect fit for the Nationals' rotation. Ian Krol (as you know) was a well-regarded prospect when the Nats acquired him in the three-team Michael Morse deal, and he made a good impression in his one season in the Nationals' organization, but I think the deal was all about Ray/Fister. I was looking forward to seeing how Ray turned out. He was a late-round pick who fell because of a college commitment, but flipping him for at least two years of control of a relatively affordable Fister, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Now just hope Fister stays healthy.

"He's got the ability, certainly, to pitch at this level. And he's got four quality pitches that he throws. All of them for strikes." - Matt Williams on Tanner Roark

AN: What's closer to the real Tanner Roark -- the dominant 1.51 ERA from last year, or the pedestrian 4.17 that he's put up so far this year?

FBB: I still don't know who the real Tanner Roark is honestly. He claims he turned things around in 2012 when he finally got over a mental block and just started pitching. It's hard to argue with his results since then. But is he the pitcher he was in six minor league seasons (just over 4.00 ERA) or the pitcher he was when he came up last season? It's easy to say it was just a matter of him not being well-known and surprising some people when he came up and now that he's a little more well-known opposing hitters have a book on him. But he has great command when he's on and he has put together some strong starts again this season. When he's struggled, it's been because he was up in the zone, but when he's sharp so far, he's just as impressive as he was when he first came up last summer.

I'm interested in seeing how he performs in the fifth spot in the rotation now that Fister is back. Still don't know who the real Roark is.

• Check out the entire series preview Q&A with Athletics Nation below:

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