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Washington Nationals Series Preview: Offense the name of the game against the Colorado Rockies

The Nationals head to Colorado to take on a potent Rockies offense this week...

Washington Nationals v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals have only won two series so far this season. One of them was against the reigning World Series champions, the other against the team who had the best record in Major League Baseball last season. Baseball.

Heading to the west coast to take on the San Francisco Giants, the Nationals were on an eight-game losing streak. It was a losing streak that included three losses against the same Giants, a team that had gone to have the second-best record in the National League at that point.

So of course the Nationals won the three-game series, with two wins where they notched double-digit runs as well.

Next, Washington stays out west to face a Colorado Rockies club that has surprised to start 2022.

While many expected the Rockies to once again fall well short of the top three in the NL West, they have started the year solidly with a 13-9 record — even if that is only good enough for fourth in the division right now — thanks to one of the best offenses in the majors.

Here’s the lowdown ahead of the three-game midweek series at Coors Field...

The schedule

  • Game One: Tuesday, May 3rd, 8:40 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Wednesday, May 4th, 8:40 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Thursday, May 5th, 3:10 pm EDT. TV: YouTube, Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Probable Pitchers

  • Game One: Erick Fedde (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs Germán Márquez (0-1, 5.57 ERA)
  • Game Two: Patrick Corbin (0-4, 8.69 ERA) vs Austin Gomber (1-2, 3.86 ERA)
  • Game Three: Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela (2-1, 3.66 ERA)

Who’s hot?

Victor Robles: Remember when Robles was hitting not just below the Mendoza Line but below .100 earlier this season? That already feels like months ago with how the young outfielder has swung the bat lately.

After working with new Hitting Coach Darnell Coles to raise the starting position of his hands on his swing — if you’d like further reading on this, The Washington Post’s Andrew Golden did an in-depth look at this work — things have clicked for Robles, who’s slashing .389/.436/.528 with five doubles in 12 appearances since the team’s series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Last season, Nationals skipper Dave Martinez talked about how in an ideal world, he’d love Robles to lead off. If he can keep up this production longer-term, then he might force himself back into that conversation, but there’s a long way to go before that happens.

C.J. Cron: Just as the Nationals have a potential All-Star first baseman of their own in Josh Bell, the Rockies have their own contender in Cron who has had a magnificent start to 2022.

The current NL home run leader has been on a tear lately, slashing a powerful .286/.333/.688 in his last 20 games, including all of his eight home runs on the year and 21 RBIs. Cron hitting in the clean-up spot for a potent Rockies offense has clearly been a recipe for success.

Who’s not?

Nelson Cruz: Things just haven’t quite clicked into place in D.C. yet for Cruz, who after showing glimpses of heating up at the plate two weeks ago has fallen flat yet again.

In his previous 15 appearances, the Designated Hitter has a poor .107/.203/.161 slash line with just one extra-base hit. Despite this, he’s still been able to drive in runs with 6 RBIs and kept a reasonable strikeout-to-walk ratio with seven walks and just nine strikeouts in that span.

The advanced analytics also paint an unlucky picture for Cruz to this point, but the Nationals are paying him to hit dingers and be a force in the lineup. So far, they aren’t getting that.

Germán Márquez: After a dominant seven-inning, one-run effort in his team’s opening game of the season, it’s been anything but plain sailing for Márquez since then.

In his last three starts, the right-hander has a 7.71 ERA in 14 innings of work while allowing three home runs, walking four batters, and striking out just nine. Given those struggles, the Nationals may have a chance to stay hot at the plate facing Márquez in the series opener.

From the opposing dugout

Check out some of the top Rockies storylines from our friends at Purple Row...

One more thing to watch

The bottom of the Nationals’ batting order had been a topic all throughout Spring Training and into the first couple of weeks of the season. Would they be able to keep up with the likes of Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Bell and make the lineup more well-rounded?

In the first few series of the season, the answer was an emphatic no. Lately, however, things have been looking up for the bottom third of the order.

During the three-game series in San Francisco, the seven, eight, and nine spots in the order combined to go 19-for-39 (.487) with nine runs scored and 10 RBIs and helped pad their lead in the blowout wins on Friday and Sunday.

If you go a bit further back and include the Marlins series, it’s still an impressive 23-for-70 (.329) and gives them a 122 wRC+ in that span.

“I mean, we could end up scoring a lot of runs,” Martinez said of how the bottom third of the lineup hitting helps his team. “We got some good hitters at the top of the order, and if we can get on base for those guys, we’ll score some runs.

“So we’re going to continue to work with these guys, like I said, I’m starting to see some better swings from those guys at the bottom, so it’s good to see.”

As mentioned above, Robles is hitting like the former top prospect he was touted to be, Maikel Franco is hitting well, and even Alcides Escobar hasn’t been dreadful this past week.

Nobody is kidding themselves and expecting this to be a level of performance that those near the bottom of the order continue all season. If they can at least ride the wave, it might help take the pressure off of the top of the order for now until they can get right.

Series Preview Trivia

Last series’ trivia question: 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?

Answer: Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa

As you will have seen in our series previews so far, we’ve added 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 Rockies...

In 2017, Coors Field was the site of the first of Trea Turner’s three cycles for the Nationals. But can you name the order in which he ticked off each type of base hit?