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Nationals vs. Diamondbacks Series Preview: Max Scherzer, Steven Souza face former clubs

The Washington Nationals have been playing hot lately and can make a statement with a series win against the club with the best record in the National League.

MLB: Houston Astros at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals (20-18) vs. Diamondbacks (24-12) series info:

Game 1: Thursday, May 10 at 9:40 p.m. ET (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Friday, May 11 at 9:40 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Game 3: Saturday, May 12 at 4:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 4: Sunday, May 13 at 8:08 p.m. EST (ESPN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Thursday: Tanner Roark (2-3, 3.65) vs. Zack Greinke (3-2, 4.10)

Friday: Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.74) vs. Matt Koch (2-0, 2.13)

Saturday: Stephen Strasburg (4-3, 3.52) vs. TBA

Sunday: Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.28) vs. Zack Godley (4-2, 3.83)

What to watch for:

Mad Max faces his former club

In seven career starts against the club that drafted him 11th overall in 2006, Max Scherzer is 5-0 with a 3.13 ERA and a 10.9 K/9. (Just for fun, he’s 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 13.4 K/9 against teams he previously played for.) As we saw with Trea Turner over the weekend, almost every player goes into games against teams that traded them with an extra chip on their shoulder. Nats’ former draftee Robbie Ray is on the disabled list but Steven Souza was activated off the 10-Day DL last week, so Scherzer/Souza just might be the matchup to watch.

Matt Adams forces the issue

With seven homers and a .379/.500/1.138 slash line for the month of May, Matt Adams is one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Despite everyday first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the lineup, Nats manager Davey Martinez said Monday that Adams would be playing throughout the Arizona series at either left field or first base including “against one of the two” Diamondbacks’ left-handed starters. Adams owns a career .606 OPS against lefties but homered off San Diego Padres southpaw Matt Strahm earlier in the series.

A.J. Pollock is back, folks

Three years removed from an All-Star season that saw him finish with a .315 batting average and 20 home runs, A.J. Pollock has returned to form with an NL-leading 1.034 OPS and 11 homers. He’s the reigning NL Player of the Week and is on a mission to prove evaluators he deserves a top free-agent deal this upcoming offseason. With Paul Goldschmidt stumbling out to a slow start (.227 BA), Pollock has been the best hitter in the Diamondbacks’ lineup and should give Nats pitchers fits throughout the series.

Series history:

The Nationals own a 52-36 record against the Diamondbacks for the all-time series (2005-present), including a 24-17 advantage at Chase Field. Arizona took two of three from Washington in their series earlier this season.