The series starts with a matchup swung highly in the Nationals’ favor as future Cy Young award winner Stephen Strasburg takes on Kyle Kendrick in a Friday night contest. Strasburg is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts, and he has struck out 34 batters compared to just six walks in 32 innings pitched on the season. Even though he is just 23 years old, Strasburg has career numbers of 8-4 with a 2.18 ERA and a 10.9 K/9 rate.
Meanwhile, Kendrick has been thrust into the starting role with Cliff Lee on the 15-day disabled list. Kendrick is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in 13.2 innings, and he’s been hit hard with a 13.2 H/9 rate and 1.829 WHIP. Kendrick is the complete opposite pitcher of Strasburg, as he just pitches to contact, and the Phillies’ bats better be ready to back him come tonight.
On Saturday, Vance Worley opposes left-handed Gio Gonzalez. Worley is 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts, and he is averaging a career-best strikeout per inning. Worley has been just as good this year following a phenomenal rookie season, and he’s given the Phillies a quality start in four of his five outings. Gonzalez is a new acquisition to the Nationals, and he is faring well, at 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts. He has given up just 16 hits in 29.2 innings pitched, and he has struck out 34 batters without giving up a home run.
Cole Hamels opposes Jordan Zimmerman on Sunday, another battle of fine pitchers. Hamels is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts, and he is averaging 10.0 K/9. Zimmerman hasn’t gotten the run support, but he is 1-2 with a 1.89 ERA in five starts, and he has a league-best 7.33 strikeout to walk ratio.
The Phillies have just the 18th-ranked scoring offense in the major leagues, and they rank 22nd in on-base percentage and only 25th in slugging percentage, although the team has performed better offensively in recent games. The Phillies will have to hit the ball well to break their current five-game losing streak to the Nationals.
The pitching staff will also get the first taste of young phenom Bryce Harper, the 19-year old who is hitting .375 with a .625 slugging percentage and appears here to stay. While it’s still only May, the Phillies will have their hands fill with the current NL East leaders.