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Washington Nationals Series Preview: Oh no, it’s the San Francisco Giants again

On an eight-game losing streak, the Nationals face the Giants again, who account for three of those losses...

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

So, the Washington Nationals are still losing, huh?

Already on a five-game skid, the Miami Marlins came to Nationals Park and swept a three-game series against the Nats, consigning them to a 6-15 record, the second-worst record in MLB, ahead of only the Cincinnati Reds, who are a dismal 3-16 on the season.

The problem in this series was clear, the Nationals could only muster up five runs across the three games, and never mustered up more than three runs in any of the games. Not great.

On an eight-game losing streak, the Nationals now head out west for a nine-game road trip that begins against the San Francisco Giants.

Many expected the Giants to take a step back this season after a strong, out-of-nowhere, 107-win season last year that saw them pip the Los Angeles Dodgers to the post in the NL West.

However, so far, the Giants still look like a strong outfit as they lead the division at 13-6 thanks to some dominant pitching performances. Just what the Nationals who are struggling on offense right now won’t want to hear. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Here’s the lowdown from Oracle Park ahead of the three-game weekend series...

The schedule

  • Game One: Friday, April 29th, 10:05 pm EDT. TV: Apple TV+, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Saturday, April 30th, 4:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Sunday, May 1st, 4:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Probable Pitchers

  • Game One: Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 8.31 ERA) vs Alex Wood (2-0, 2.51 ERA)
  • Game Two: Joan Adon (1-3, 6.98 ERA) vs Logan Webb (2-1, 2.96 ERA)
  • Game Three: Josiah Gray (2-2, 4.05 ERA) vs TBD 0-0, (-.-- ERA)

Who’s hot?

Erasmo Ramírez: In perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far for the Nationals, the bullpen appears to generally be pretty solid — now if only they could be given a lead.

Lately, that group has gotten good innings from an unexpected source in Ramírez.

In four appearances since having his contract selected from Triple-A, the veteran right-hander has delivered 6.1 scoreless innings, including 3.1 in relief of Patrick Corbin during the previous series against the Giants, striking out five and not walking a batter. If any of the team’s starters fail to go deep into games, expect Ramírez to eat more innings for the team.

Joc Pederson: Well, in the previous series preview against the Giants, we looked at Brandon Belt, he of a big postseason home run against the Nationals. This time it’s Pederson, who also has a big postseason home run against the Nationals, albeit not quite as big as Belt’s.

Since April 12th, Pederson has a powerful .372/.378/.837 slash line to go with six home runs, including a two home run game against the Nationals in the series finale a week ago.

Once again, he’ll be a threat at the plate to be wary of, particularly for right-handed pitchers.

Who’s not?

Lucius Fox: If anybody deserved a bit of luck lately for the Nationals, it would be Fox, who is still searching for his first career major league hit after 20 at-bats without one to begin the season.

Despite this, the young infielder always brings energy to the field, has played great defense, and provided everyone with a moment we won’t be forgetting in a hurry, which he thankfully has a good sense of humor about when talking about recently with The Washington Post.

Hopefully, he gets the first hit monkey off his back soon. He’s definitely earned at least that.

Joey Bart: Talk about big shoes to fill. After Buster Posey’s retirement this offseason, Bart, a former second overall pick in 2018, has struggled to live up to his predecessor to this point.

In his first 12 appearances of the season, the 25-year-old backstop is slashing an underwhelming .158/.304/.342 with a pair of home runs. The key struggle for him so far has been limiting the strikeouts as he’s struck out 23 times in those 12 games at a 15.2% clip, almost triple his career major league strikeout rate.

He still projects to be the catcher of the future, and while the on-base and power numbers are fine, the Giants will still be hoping he develops into a better all-round hitter.

From the opposing dugout

Check out some of the top Giants storylines from our friends at McCovey Chronicles...

One more thing to watch

Finally! Despite excuse after excuse from MASN regarding keeping their broadcast crew at Nationals Park for the first few road series, Bob Carpenter and Kevin Frandsen will now be back on the road with the team, starting with this three-game series against the Giants.

Mark Zuckerman, MASN’s Nationals beat reporter, announced the news in his Tuesday notes.

MASN announced this morning that Nationals broadcasters will begin traveling to road games for the first time this season. Bob Carpenter and Kevin Frandsen had called the team’s first two road series in Atlanta and Pittsburgh from Nationals Park. They will be on-site in San Francisco for this weekend’s series against the Giants, then in Colorado for a three-game series against the Rockies before Dan Kolko fills in for Carpenter on play-by-play duties during the May 6-8 series against the Angels in Anaheim.

For the past two and a bit seasons, the quality of road broadcasts for the Nationals has been severely impacted by MASN’s decision to keep their broadcasters and production crew back at Nationals Park, and it’s been pretty noticeable.

It makes a difference when broadcasters can see the flight of the ball off the bat rather than waiting for the TV screen to change. It makes a difference when the broadcasters can speak to the team on the road and stay in the loop, especially on long road trips like this one.

Now, fans will at least be getting the bare minimum again from MASN with Carpenter and Frandsen on the road with the team and calling road games at the ballpark.

However, that will have to wait a day as Apple TV+ exclusively carries the first game of this series, obviously.

Series Preview Trivia

Last series’ trivia question: Former Marlin, Miguel Cabrera, joined the 3,000 hit club over the weekend, becoming just the 33rd player to reach the milestone. Who is the only other former Marlins player that is a part of that club with Cabrera?

Answer: Ichiro Suzuki

As you will have seen in our first few series previews, we’re trying out a new feature this season. We’re going to have a trivia question each series for you to try your hand at and answer down in the comments, then we’ll reveal the answer in our next series preview.

Here’s the trivia question for this series against the Marlins...

With a trip to San Francisco this weekend, which two former Nationals players lead the team in regular season home runs at Oracle Park ‘05-‘21 with four a piece?