Apr 13, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Zach Duke (30) throws during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Giants Look To Get Back On Track Vs. Nationals: Game Preview


 

May 4, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) prepares to deliver a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning at AT

Starting Pitchers: Zach Duke (0-0, 8.40) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (1-4, 8.06)

The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals are trending in similar directions. With little knowledge, you might’ve guessed up, but two of the National League’s projected powerhouse teams are actually trending down.

Both the Giants and Nationals are 4-6 over their past 10 games, but for different reasons.

Giants starters mustered a dreadful 9.82 ERA on their latest five-game road trip to Toronto and Colorado. The best start on the trip came on Sunday via Barry Zito, who allowed five runs in 5.2 innings. I repeat, that was their best start. Hopefully that puts their latest struggles into context.

The bigger picture of San Francisco’s wobbly rotation isn’t much better either. It’s currently owners of the second-worst starters ERA in the NL with a 4.87 mark, which is only increasing daily.

Ryan Vogelsong will look to set the tone for the Giants. His 8.06 ERA is the highest in the NL among qualified starters, as is his .333 opponents batting average.

Meanwhile, Washington’s two biggest problems lately reside in their bullpen and starting lineup. Their bullpen has totaled a 4.30 over the past seven days, and their lineup is hitting a combined .221 (27th in baseball) with a .285 OBP (26th) over the same span. Both areas were bolstered during the offseason, but neither have been bright spots, at least not of late.

Scouting Zach Duke

Duke’s versatility to start and relieve is a boon to the Nationals with Ross Detwiler nursing a back injury. Detwiler becomes Washington’s first pitcher to miss a start this year.

The raw numbers on Duke aren’t very intriguing, mainly his 8.40 ERA. However, that mark is highly inflated because of one bad start in his first appearance of the year where he yielded five earned runs in 2.2 innings against the Cincinnati Reds. Since, he’s posted a 3.86 ERA in 11.2 innings. So, it’s tough to put much credence in the raw numbers, which is the case for many relievers.

However, Duke has his flaws. He’s allowed 22 hits in 15 innings, which equates to a H/9 (hits through nine innings) of 13.2. That’s not good, and there’s no avoiding it. It’s not as if he’s constantly handing out free passes (2.4 BB/9). He’s simply giving up hits at an incredibly high rate. With that said, his .364 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), indicates that luck hasn’t been on his side, as does his FIP (Fielding Independent Percentage) of 4.43.

Duke is primarily a fastball pitcher, throwing the pitch 64.2 percent of the time. He’ll occasionally mix in a change-up (15.3 percent) and a curveball (13.1), but his fastball ultimately determines his success.

Notes

  • The Giants have lost 11 of their last 18 games against the Nationals dating back to 2010. They went 1-5 against them last year.
  • Marco Scutaro enters Monday amid a 17-game hitting streak, which is just three games shy of his career-best streak of 20 games. He’s hitting .486 during the streak.
  • The last time two pitchers with ERAs north of 8.00 faced off was in September of 2010.

Lineups

Nationals

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Steve Lombardozzi (S) 2B
3. Bryce Harper (L) RF
4. Ryan Zimmerman (R) 3B
5. Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
6. Ian Desmond (R) SS
7. Roger Bernadina (L) LF
8. Jhonatan Solano (R) C
9. Zach Duke (L) P

Giants

1. Angel Pagan (S) CF
2. Marco Scutaro (R) 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Hunter Pence (R) RF
6. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
7. Andres Torres (S) LF
8. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
9. Ryan Vogelsong (R) P

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