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Washington Nationals vs Arizona Diamondbacks Series Preview: The road without Adam Eaton begins

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The Washington Nationals lost center fielder Adam Eaton for the season with a knee injury. Will the offense continue producing at a historic rate?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Diamondbacks (16-11) vs. Nationals (17-8) Series Info:

Game 1: Tuesday, May 2 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Wednesday, May 3 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Game 3: Thursday, May 4 at 1:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Taijuan Walker (3-1, 3.94 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (3-0, 3.64)

Saturday: Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.56) vs. Gio Gonzalez (3-0, 1.62)

Sunday: TBA vs. Max Scherzer (3-2, 2.94)

What to watch for:

Replacing Adam Eaton

Putting the Nationals’ 23-run outburst Sunday aside, there’s a big hole at the top of the lineup with center fielder Adam Eaton out for the year with ACL and meniscus tears.

Michael Taylor has been handed the keys to job for now, going 5 for 11 (.455) with a double and three runs scored since Eaton went down.

Taylor’s likely to cool down — his OPS+ sits at an abysmal 29 on the year — so look for recently called up prospect Rafael Bautista to get a crack at the spot once the strikeouts start to pile up once again.

Can Gio Gonzalez keep it up?

Through his first five starts last season, Gio Gonzalez was 2-1 with an ERA of 1.15 ERA.

With five outings under his belt this year, the Nats’ lefty is 3-1 with a sparkling 1.62 mark.

Gonzalez went on to post a 5.30 ERA the rest of the way, struggling to generate weak contact and posting a strikeout rate well below his career average.

His early returns in 2017 have been promising, but it’s going to take sustained success over the course of a season before anyone can truly determine whether he’s returned to form.

Diamondbacks boast strong starting pitching

Through one month of play, the Dbacks lead the National League in rotation ERA with a mark of 3.34.

Washington won’t see Zack Greinke in the series, but Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker have been pleasant surprises out in the desert thus far this season.

The Nats’ bats have been hot — as have Arizona’s — but with both rotations among the league’s best, it will be worth watching to see which lineup finds an edge.

Who to watch out for: Paul Goldschmidt

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I tried to find another hitter in the lineup that stands out offensively anywhere near that of Paul Goldschmidt, but there was no competition.

Goldy ranks in the top of the majors in WAR (1.5), on-base percentage (.462), OPS (.983), walks (22) and runs scored (21).

Pitchers have been pitching around Goldschmidt for years — his 250 walks since the start of 2015 are the third most in baseball.

If the Nats’ starters run into trouble early, it would probably be in their best interest to follow suit.