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Giants vs. Nationals Series Preview: Can the Nats build off the Capitals’ magic?

The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions, which means the D.C. curse has come to an end. The Nationals continue their quest for a championship title with a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants.  

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Giants (31-31) vs. Nationals (35-25) series info:

Game 1: Friday, June 8 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, June 9 at 12:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, June 10 at 4:05 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Friday: Andrew Suarez (2-4, 4.74 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.20)

Saturday: Dereck Rodriguez (1-0, 1.93) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-2, 2.27)

Sunday: Derek Holland (3-6, 4.91) vs. Max Scherzer (10-1, 1.95)

What to watch for:

Soto is here to stay

According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Nats “plan to keep Juan Soto up even when their injured stars return.” Heyman also noted in his weekly notes column that Washington checked on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto’s availability but balked when Miami responded with the names of Soto and Victor Robles. It appears Soto is entrenched in a starting outfield job moving forward thanks to his impressive .346/.443/.538 slash line to go along with two homers and 11 runs scored.

Giants must endure the Nats’ rotation gauntlet

The Nationals’ starting pitchers lead the National League in ERA (2.89), WHIP (1.05), strikeouts (412), innings pitched (373.2) and opponents’ batting average (.212). Their trio of frontline starters is a big reason for that, as all three boast an ERA+ of 126 or higher. Washington owns a .667 winning percentage (24-12) in games started by either Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez, giving it good odds to walk away from this series against San Francisco with at least a pair of wins.

San Francisco finds itself at a crossroads

Madison Bumgarner returned from the disabled list Wednesday to make his season debut, allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings to go along with three strikeouts and no walks. The Giants did eventually lose that game, but the club was able to remain afloat in the NL West despite the absence of its ace. Now that Bumgarner is back, the front office must gauge its ball club: Buy or sell? A weak division race has San Francisco just 1.5 games back of first place, but it’s still sitting at .500 and doesn’t have the look of a team that could go deep into the playoffs. Perhaps a test against one of the best rosters in the National League will be telling…

Series history:

The Nationals lead the all-time series (2005-present) 46-41, including a mark of 25-16 in D.C. San Francisco took two of three in the first series between these two clubs in late April.