When: 7:05 EST
The Starters: Jackson (1-1, 3.16) vs. Saunders (2-1, 0.90)
The Line: Nats -125, DBacks +105, O/U 6.5 Runs, Nats -1.5
Starters - Tonights game will be a battle of two veteran pitchers who have been good but not great over the course of their careers. Right handed Edwin Jackson will go for the Nationals, looking to help them snap a 5 game losing streak. Jackson seems to alternate between a good start and a bad start every time he takes the mound, and unfortunelty his last one was good (6.2 IP, 0 ER, 6 K). On top of that he will face a Dback’s lineup that is red hot right now, scoring 22 runs in the past 3 games (which is equal to the number of runs the Nats have scored in the past 9 games). Saunders will be the man tonight for the Dbacks. Saunders has been dominant in his first 4 starts of 2012, and his last start was his best, a complete game shutout of the Miami Marlins. Tonight he will take on a National’s lineup that has only scored 7 runs in the past 5 games. Saunders also has history on his side as no current National has had much success against him, combining for just one extra base hit (a double by Jayson Werth) in 30 at bats.
Lineups – The National’s lineup has been a total liability so far this season without Mike Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. They are currently 2nd to last in the National League in both batting average (.226) and steals (8), and third to last in both Runs (74) and homers (13). The Dbacks lineup on the other hand has been pretty good, placing 9th in the NL in average (.246), 4th in Runs (104), 2nd in homers (24), and 1st in steals (21). And all of that is with Justin Upton off to a slow start (.242, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and Chris Young on the DL. Even though I do like the potential that Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore bring to the lineup, it would be crazy for me to say that the Nationals have the better lineup of the two teams right now. Advantage Diamondbacks. (stats as of start of the series)
Bullpens – The National bullpen has been very solid this year, with Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen, and Henry Rodriguez leading the way. They also haven’t really had any liabilities so far this year, with only one guy having an era over 5.40 (Gorzelanny 6.17) so Davey Johnson can give the ball to any of the 8 hurlers he has out there with confidence. Also you have to figure that Tyler Clippard will find his fastball control again soon and return to being the dominant set up man he was last season (3-0, 1.83 era). The Diamondbacks have a pretty nice trio of their own with Bryan Shaw, Brad Ziegler, and Craig Breslow, all three having eras under 2.50. But unlike the Nats they’ve had some liabilities to work around with Mike Zagurski and Joe Paterson combining to give up 15 earned runs in just 5 innings of work. Both bullpens have some decent arms but the Nationals have the advantage in terms of depth. Advantage Nationals.
Game Summary - The Nats are overmatched tonight in both starting pitcher and lineup, they’ll struggle to get anything going against Saunders resulting in a 6th straight loss.
Prediction: Diamondbacks 5, Nationals 2
Key Players (Stat Prediction): Jackson (5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 4 K, 2 BB), Werth (2-3, HR, SB), Saunders (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 2 BB), Goldschmidt (2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI)
Jesse’s Picks W/L: 13 – 10
Jesse’s Picks ATS: 12 – 10