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Padres vs. Nationals Series Preview: Nats must recover from rainy week

The Washington Nationals had a mini All-Star Break last week thanks to all the rain delays but will try to get back into their groove with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Padres (20-28) vs. Nationals (24-21) series info:

Game 1: Monday, May 21 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/99.1 Bloomberg)

Game 2: Tuesday, May 22 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 3: Wednesday, May 23 at 4:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Monday: Robbie Erlin (1-2, 3.46) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.36)

Tuesday: Eric Lauer (1-2, 8.14) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (1-0, 2.20)

Wednesday: Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.35) vs. TBA (Erick Fedde?)

What to watch for:

There’s a teenager in our midst

19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto has been recalled from Double-A Harrisburg in the wake of utility man Howie Kendrick’s season-ending Achilles injury. Soto, who’s already been promoted up Washington’s minor-league system twice this season, will bat sixth and start in left field for the series opener. Behind only Victor Robles, the Dominican Republic native is the consensus No. 2 prospect in the Nationals’ farm system.

Washington needs Bryce Harper to heat up

Amid the slew of injuries that’s plagued the Nats in the early goings of this season, Bryce Harper has managed to stay on the field despite a shaky history with the injury bug. However, although his presence in the lineup has been consistent, his production has been fairly inconsistent. Harper sports a .190 batting average in the month of May and has just three extra-base hits in his last 12 games. With several starters riding the pine while they rehab from injuries, Harper is the most important player in the lineup and needs to show some signs of life before the offense can start producing.

Padres gaining momentum

San Diego may still have the worst record in the NL West, but the team has been playing well against some quality teams over the last week and a half. Since May 12, the Padres are 6-2 (tied for best record in NL over that span) with series splits against the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies as well as a series win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. All three teams sport winning records. The Nats are stumbling after getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend — don’t count the Padres out of being able to take advantage.

Series history:

The Padres lead the all-time series (2005-present) 45-41, including a .564 winning percentage at Nationals Park. Washington took two of three between the two clubs in San Diego earlier this season.