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Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals Series Preview: NL East clash could prove important in standings

The Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies are separated by just a half game in the division standings. Can either team build some separation with a series win?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies (39-33) vs. Nationals (40-33) series info:

Game 1: Friday, June 22 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, June 23 at 4:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, June 24 at 8:05 p.m. EST (ESPN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Friday: Zach Eflin (4-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. Tanner Roark (3-7, 3.87)

Saturday: Aaron Nola (8-2, 2.55) vs. Erick Fedde (0-2, 5.63)

Sunday: Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08) vs. Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66)

What to watch for:

He’s the truth, the Childish Bambino

What were you doing at 19 years old? Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t as impressive as what Juan Soto has been doing at the plate. The teenage phenom is batting .326 with six homers, seven doubles, 16 walks and just 20 strikeouts.

His OPS+ sits at 172 entering Friday’s action, which puts him tied with Freddie Freeman for the third-highest mark in all of baseball among players with at least 100 plate appearances. Soto has been performing at just the right time for the Nationals, who have seen four different players post an OPS below .700 since his debut.

Would the real Tanner Roark please stand up?

Nats starter Tanner Roark has been wildly inconsistent this season. While he’s had seven starts where he’s allowed two earned runs or less, he’s also given up at least four earned runs four times this season. Roark has had a particularly rough month of June, posting a 6.06 ERA across four appearances (three starts).

Roark has shown several flashes of his former self, including his season debut when he allowed just one run over seven strong innings. However, that performance marked his highest game score (70) of the season. In 2016, he reached that threshold five times en route to a top-10 finish in NL Cy Young voting.

Phillies getting back on track

Following a tough stretch of 21 games in which they went 7-14, the Phillies have gathered themselves and posted a 7-3 record over their last 10. Leading the way is Odubel Herrera, who is hitting .419 in his last seven games with five home runs.

The recent run of success also coincides with the return of Rhys Hoskins, who was forced to take a stint on the disabled list with a broken jaw. Hoskins is hitting .357 since he was activated and finally looks to be rediscovering the power he displayed as a rookie in 2017.

Series history:

The Phillies lead the all-time series (2005-present) 127-117, including a mark of 65-60 in D.C. Washington took two of three in the first series between these two clubs in early May.