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Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals Series Preview: The Dark Knight returns to D.C.

The Washington Nationals have won five of their last seven and are coming off a two-game sweep of the Mets. Can they keep rolling against Matt Harvey and the Reds?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Reds (48-60) vs. Nationals (54-53) series info:

Game 1: Thursday, Aug. 2 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Friday, Aug. 3 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7)

Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 5 at 1:35 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Thursday: Tyler Mahle (7-8, 4.53 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (14-5, 2.30)

Friday: Anthony DeSclafani (4-3, 5.47) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.78)

Saturday: Matt Harvey (5-6, 5.13) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 3.59)

Sunday: Luis Castillo (6-8, 4.98) vs. Tanner Roark (5-12, 4.37)

What to watch for:

Murphy finds a spark

After missing two months recovering from knee surgery and enduring a third unable to play at 100 percent, Daniel Murphy has finally regained his form. Over the past month, the Nats’ second baseman is hitting .371 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 23 games.

If the Nationals are going to make any kind of run at the playoffs, Murphy and fellow star Bryce Harper are going to need to be key cogs in the lineup. For what it’s worth, Harper is hitting .333 with two homers in 11 games since the All-Star Break.

The Roark resurgence

The National League leader in losses, Tanner Roark has had a disappointing season no matter which way you look at it. With Washington looking to get back in the hunt for a postseason berth, however, there’s still time for him to salvage some respectable numbers.

He’s picked up his play over his last two starts, allowing just one earned run in 15 innings and dropping his ERA by half a run. Every series is a must-win series now and if Roark can find a way to put his team in a position to win, the Nats will be in pretty good shape.

Harvey sticks around

Despite the Reds’ efforts to trade him at the deadline, Matt Harvey is still in Cincinnati and likely will stay there for the rest of the season barring a waiver trade. Club officials don’t seem too upset about it though, as they claim Harvey has been a positive influence on the staff’s younger arms.

Since being traded to the Reds in May, Harvey is 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA across 14 starts. Most of that damage came in a clunker against the red-hot Pirates, when he allowed eight earned runs in three and two thirds innings. In all other starts with Cincy, Harvey sports a 3.63 ERA.

Series history:

The Nationals have led the all-time series (2005-present) 46-43 since they swept Cincinnati in the season-opening series earlier this year. Washington has picked 24 of those victories at home, posting a .571 winning percentage against the Reds at Nationals Park.