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Rays vs. Nationals Series Preview: Both clubs lose a starter ahead of inter-league series

Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer were both placed on the Disabled List on Tuesday, stretching both teams’ starting pitching depth thin.

Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Rays (28-30) vs. Nationals (33-25) series info:

Game 1: Tuesday, June 5 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Wednesday, June 6 at 1:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Monday: Nathan Eovaldi (0 ER, 6 IP) vs. Max Scherzer (9-1, 1.92 ERA)

Tuesday: TBA (Diego Castillo?) vs. Tanner Roark (2-6, 3.61)

What to watch for:

The Nats are in desperate need of some offense

Since beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-0 on May 28, the Nationals have been unable to score more than three runs in the first nine innings of any the five games they’ve played. Washington’s .717 OPS ranks 19th in the majors, which would be the lowest place on the league leaderboard the Nats have held since 2011. The team is obviously missing several key offensive pieces in Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton, but the gaping holes in the lineup created by Michael Taylor and Pedro Severino have been all the more glaring.

Hellickson to the DL

After pulling his hamstring one batter into Sunday afternoon’s contest, Jeremy Hellickson has landed on the 10-Day Disabled List. Lefty Matt Grace was activated in a corresponding move. With several off days in the coming weeks, the Nationals won’t need a fifth starter until June 19. The injury actually allows Washington to employ nine relievers in its bullpen, as it’s already been operating with a short bench. That could change once Murphy and/or Eaton return, but for now the Nats have plenty of options to turn to if they have another long extra-inning game.

Rays lose a key starter as well

Chris Archer has been the face of the Rays’ pitching staff for years, but he’ll head to the shelf with an abdominal injury to add to Tampa Bay’s growing list of injured players. Archer has a 4.24 ERA and 9.0 K/9 on the season. 25-year-old Blake Snell has quietly emerged as the team’s ace, but its depth has been stretched thin with injuries to Archer and Jake Faria as well as poor performances by several arms that have rotated back and forth between the majors and AAA. Diego Castillo, one of the team’s more well-regarded pitching prospects, was promoted to the big leagues in wake of Archer’s injury and could make his MLB debut Tuesday.

Series history:

The Nationals and Rays have played just 13 times since the former relocated to D.C. in 2005, with Tampa Bay boasting an 8-5 advantage. They last played each other in 2015, when the Rays took three of four in the season series.