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Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: Can the Nats play spoiler?

The Washington Nationals are out of the playoff race, but they could put a dent in the Philadelphia Phillies’ postseason hopes with a series win.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Nationals (71-72) vs. Phillies (74-68) series info:

Game 1: Monday, Sept. 10 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Monday: Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.61)

Tuesday: Tanner Roark (8-15, 4.23) vs. Nick Pivetta (7-11, 4.66)

Wednesday: Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.04) vs. Aaron Nola (16-4, 2.29)

What to watch for:

Five tools at the top

Before Sunday’s game was rained out, the Nationals had top prospect Victor Robles penciled in the leadoff spot for the first time in his brief major-league career. While a crowded outfield has limited Robles’ playing time since his call up, manager Davey Martinez appears to be pulling all the stops to get him an extended look.

If the Nats do part ways with Bryce Harper this offseason, Robles will be the obvious candidate to replace him the lineup. His performance over the next few weeks likely won’t change that, but Washington is certainly eager to see what its prized prospect can do when he plays every day.

Turner trying to see 20/20

Trea Turner has already racked up an MLB-high 37 stolen bases this season, but sits three home runs short of the 20 mark. If he does launch three more long balls by the end of the season, he’ll join Harper, Ian Desmond and Alfonso Soriano as the only players in Nats history to compile a 20/20 season.

Harper was the last to do it when he hit 24 homers and stole 21 bases in his (alleged) injury-plagued 2016 season. Desmond did so for three straight seasons from 2012-14, winning Silver Slugger each year. In 2006, Soriano was one of the few bright spots for an abysmal Nats squad, becoming only the fourth player ever to join the 40/40 club.

Phillies continue to slide

The Phillies haven’t won a series over a team not named the Marlins since July 23-25, when they took two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers. When they wrapped up that series, the Phillies were 13 games over .500 and a game and a half up on the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East.

Since then, only the Marlins have had a worse record than Philadelphia among NL East clubs. There have been problems in both the rotation and bullpen, but the offense stands out as the biggest issue. Only five teams in all of baseball have scored fewer runs over that span.

Series history:

The Phillies lead the all-time series (2005-present) by a margin of 134-123, including nine wins in 16 games played between the two clubs this season. Washington is 4-2 against Philadelphia since the All-Star Break.