The Nationals got a nice present from Mother Nature yesterday: a rainout. A day off at home is about as rare a commodity as you’ll find during the Major League Baseball season. The Nationals leave in the morning for a quick two-game jaunt in New York before three games of interleague play in Baltimore, and then three games in Milwaukee.
With a 20-21 record, the Nationals go into their road trip with a 6-4 record over their last ten games. Their trip to New York will see them play the last place New York Mets, who are also sporting a 6-4 record over their last ten games, mostly at the hands of Houston and Los Angeles, who’ve not had strong starts, but also against Colorado, who lead the West. Tom Gorzelanny (2-3) and Livan Hernandez (3-5) will start in New York, with Jordan Zimmermann losing his start due to the rain yesterday. Given that the Nats are trying to limit the returning hurler’s innings this season, a saved start is a wise choice for the club. They’ll likely face Dillon Gee (2-0) and R.A. Dickey (1-5). A split would be the bare minimum, but I’d say it’s possible we’ll see a short sweep.
After that, it’s down to Charm City for the weekend for an interleague series against the Orioles. The O’s have had about the same start as the Nationals, and are suffering similarly in the injury column. They’re expected to have placed Derrek Lee and Cesar Izturis on the DL before the weekend series against the Nats, and are relying on prospects from Norfolk to help make up the difference. Buck Showalter’s bullpen has been their Achilles heel, so if the Nats can take their starters out of the equation, they’ve got a good chance of winning the series.
Once they’re through with Camden Yards, the Nats head to meet the 20-21 Milwaukee Brewers. After refusing a trade to the Nationals, Zach Greinke found himself in Milwaukee, for reasons that many found a little bit funny. He’ll likely face Livan Hernandez in the final game of the road trip. Since coming off an abdominal injury, Greinke’s had just three starts, but his season isn’t quite living up to the potential cost.
There’s a fair chance the Nats could come away from this road trip with a 5-4 split, putting them even up at .500 in the last week of May. It could go the other way, and the Nats could find themselves pressed up against the three-games-under mark again, especially if either the O’s or the Brew Crew get hot. The Nationals are maddening for their incredible potential, and yet, they deliver on it so unevenly. If they can find their stride, they may yet keep up with the middle of the road.