Washington Nationals' Series Against Detroit Tigers is Crucial

By Brian Skinnell
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

It may only be for two games, but the Washington Nationals are set for a crucial duel in Detroit vs. the Detroit Tigers.

Lately, the Nationals have found a little offense. Since losing to the New York Mets 11-0 last Thursday night in the first of four games against their NL East opponents, they’ve outscored the Mets 20-3, including a 14-1 drubbing in game four. They won three out of four games.

However, neither of those three wins came against marquee opposing starting pitchers. In Detroit, they’ll have to go up against two pitchers that are both capable of Cy Young seasons: Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander.

Had the Nationals been in first place in the division heading into Tuesday night’s contest, this would be a two-game series that many could be calling a potential World Series preview. While it doesn’t have that kind of hype, it will be a good benchmark and reality check for the Nats.

Reality check? Rarely do you hear that word being used in a positive context. But should the Nationals play well and sweep the series, or even win one game and keep the other one close, that should give Nationals fans and players confidence and momentum knowing that they played well against a tough opponent.

With the bats beginning to wake up and the offense beginning to find a spark, this will be a good test to see whether their recent play was a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come. If the Nationals can continue their offensive success, that should leave general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson very happy when they board the plane to leave Detroit.

Should they fall flat, the talk of the season and postseason being lost will continue. If the Nationals want to contend for a postseason spot or even be considered a postseason-caliber team, a good showing over the next two nights is needed.

The pitching matchups alone have World Series potential written all over them. On Tuesday night, we’ll be treated to Stephen Strasburg vs. Anibal Sanchez,  and Wednesday night will feature Gio Gonzalez versus Justin Verlander. Need I say more?

While this may not be getting the hype that it deserves around MLB, this two-game series between the Nationals and the Tigers is an important one. The Nationals brass will get a chance to see where they stack up against a playoff-caliber opponent before the trade deadline passes.

Brian Skinnell is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.

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