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Washington Nationals vs Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: Nats host Phillies with bullpen questions looming

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The Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies after blowing two late-inning leads in their last four games.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies (13-19) vs. Nationals (22-12) Series Info:

Game 1: Friday, May 12 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, May 13 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, May 14 at 1:35 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Nick Pivetta (0-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.46)

Saturday: Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.94) vs. Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.64)

Sunday: Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.49) vs. Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.59)

What to watch for:

Nats getting bullpen reinforcements

Putting things lightly, the Washington Nationals’ bullpen has been bad through the first six weeks of the season — but help is on the way.

Manager Dusty Baker announced Wednesday that both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover could be activated off the disabled list this weekend.

The duo was splitting the closer role until they each hit the shelf, but their return could provide some stability to the Nats’ relief corps.

Anthony Rendon comes in hot

Riding a seven-game hitting streak, the Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon has been on some kind of tear since his 6 for 6 day against the New York Mets at the end of April.

In the month of May, Rendon is hitting .303/.410/.576 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs — heating up just in time to replace the production Adam Eaton was giving the Nats before they lost him to a season-ending ACL injury.

Rendon would be hitting farther up the order if it weren’t for the hot bat Jayson Werth is swinging in the No. 2 spot (1.067 OPS in May).

Phillies hitting a rough spot

The Philadelphia Phillies enter play Friday having lost 10 of their last 12 games, dropping them to eight games back of the Nats in the NL East standings.

Owners of a 5.59 team ERA since the month began, the Phillies have fallen victim to blowing late-inning leads themselves.

Washington is the better team in nearly every facet of the game, but if the Phillies are to steal a game from them — Jeremy Hellickson has owned the Nats to the tune of a 2.70 ERA in three starts against them this year.

Who to watch out for: Aaron Altherr

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Thames may be getting all the attention as the lead breakout candidate of the year, but Aaron Altherr isn’t too far behind.

The 26-year-old outfielder has a .351/.435/.743 slash line with 21 RBIs in 25 games so far this season, and provided Philadelphia with the game-tying three-run homer that eventually led to a walk-off victory over the Nats on May 7.

Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera are considered the cornerstones of this rebuilding franchise, but if Altherr keeps up his strong start he could make his way into that conversation.