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Washington Nationals vs Houston Astros Series Preview: Who stacks up as the biggest threat to the Dodgers’ World Series hopes?

The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros are within a game of each other in the race for the second best record in the majors.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals (74-48) vs Astros (76-48) Series Info:

Game 1: Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 8:10 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 8:10 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 24 at 8:10 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Tuesday: Tanner Roark (9-8, 4.70 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (10-5, 3.69)

Wednesday: Edwin Jackson (4-2, 3.43) vs. Mike Fiers (7-8, 4.32)

Thursday: Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.24) vs. Dallas Keuchel (11-2, 2.58)

What to watch for:

Injuries proving to be true tests for both Washington and Houston

The Nationals have been hit hard by the injury bug, landing Max Scherzer, Ryan Madson, Trea Turner, Jayson Werth and several others on the disabled list.

Houston, meanwhile, is trying to fill the voids left by injured stars Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers and Evan Gattis.

Washington has still managed to maintain its winning ways with an 11-7 record in the month of August, but the Astros have stumbled to a 7-12 mark over that span.

Both teams will send an All-Star to the mound in the finale and have lineups that sport an MVP candidate, but it just might be the replacement players that determine who takes this series.

Nats getting all they can out of Edwin Jackson

Journeyman Edwin Jackson wasn’t on the Nationals’ radar prior to the season, but he’s been a key starter for them with Strasburg, Scherzer and Joe Ross battling injuries.

Jackson is 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA in six starts for Washington since joining the club midseason, providing some stability for an injury-ridden rotation.

With Ross out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, Jackson could earn himself a spot on the playoff roster if he can continue his run of success.

It’s Keuchel and… everyone else

The Astros were unable to acquire a frontline starter at the trade deadline, and it’s raised some serious questions about their rotation depth.

Dallas Keuchel has been on the DL twice this year and McCullers was struggling before he landed on the shelf himself, and that’s only the beginning.

Both Charlie Morton and Mike Fiers have had up-and-down seasons, making the injured-yet-still-potent Nats lineup a tall task to overcome.

Who to watch out for: Yuli Gurriel

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston wasn’t sure what it was going to get out of Yuli Gurriel prior to the season, but he’s lived up to expectations with a .804 OPS and 33 doubles in 109 games in 2017.

The first baseman might be a little more involved in the Rookie of the Year conversation if it weren’t for the presence of Aaron Judge.

Gurriel and the Astros make up the only lineup in the AL that’s scored more runs than the Nats, leaving the Nationals’ starters work cut out for them even with Correa on the DL.