Series Preview: Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees (6/18)

After taking three out of four from the Rays at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, the Bombers travel down to our Nation’s capital to play a game and a half against the Washington Nationals. In what was originally scheduled to be an off day, the Yanks will have to finish their two-game series against the Nats from a month ago. The two teams faced off for two games at Yankee Stadium last week, splitting the shortened series. Entering play, the Yankees are tied atop the AL East standings with a record of 46-21. Meanwhile, the Nationals, after surprisingly being swept by the Blue Jays over the weekend, sit at 37-31 and trail the Braves in the NL East by 3.5 games.
Photo Credit: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports
Continuation of Game One: Monday, June 18th at 5:05pm on YES
Pitching TBD

When this game went into a rain delay, and ultimately was suspended, the score was tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. Masahiro Tanaka had just been lifted for pinch-hitter Brett Gardner, and it has been announced that Chad Green will come in when the game is resumed. Washington starter Gio Gonzalez had also been taken out after pitching five innings and was replaced by Wander Suero, who pitched the sixth. Catching up on the highlights, the Nats broke out to a 3-0 in the first two innings thanks to a home run by Anthony Rendon in the first and RBI singles by Andrew Stevenson and Pedro Severino in the second. After that, Tanaka bounced back and threw three scoreless innings before departing. For the Yanks, all of the offense came from Tyler Austin. He hit a two-run home run in the fourth and a sac fly in the fifth to tie things up at three. Now, since this game began a month ago, some weird things are going to happen. Tyler Austin, who drove in all three Yankees runs, is currently with triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre. He may be replaced in the lineup by Greg Bird, who was still on the disabled list when the game started. For the Nationals, 19-year-old phenom Juan Soto wasn’t even in the Big Leagues yet, but he could very well make in appearance in tonight’s continuation. Also, Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy, who are now healthy, were on the DL at that time. If for no other reason, the game is worth watching to see what Aaron Boone and Dave Martinez do strategically.

Game Two: Monday, June 18th after the completion of game one on YES/MLBN
Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.98 ERA) vs. Eric Fedde (0-1, 5.91 ERA)

In a rematch of Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks will pit Sonny Gray against Eric Fedde in the nightcap. Last Wednesday, Gray was coming off his best outing of the season after tossing eight shutout innings against the Blue Jays in Toronto. It appeared that his good form was continuing as he allowed just one run over the first three innings against Washington. However, things fell apart for the Yankees right-hander in the fourth when he gave up a two-out, three-run home run to Nationals rookie Juan Soto. It was a decent outing for Gray, but obviously, he has to be better. Tonight, he will have the advantage of pitching in the National League and not having to deal with the designated hitter, and he’s also pitching on the road where he has been much better. More on that later.
Photo Credit: Mike Strobe/Getty Images
Nationals vs. Gray:
Anthony Rendon: 4-11, three R, 2B
Trea Turner: 3-5, two RBI, R, 3B
Juan Soto: 1-1, HR, three RBI, R

The Nationals will counter with young right-hander Eric Fedde. Last time out against the Yankees, Fedde did not fair very well, as he allowed four runs over five innings. The Yanks scored a run in each of the first three innings against him in a game that Sonny Gray was not able to protect the lead he was given. Fedde is a 2014 first round pick that Washington thinks highly of and he is currently in the rotation slot of the injured Jeremy Hellickson. Facing a team twice in one week is never easy, so this will be a tall task for Fedde. Additionally, since this is the second game of the day for both teams, they will each be permitted to call up a 26th man. The Yankees have announced they will recall right-handed reliever Giovanny Gallegos, while the Nationals will promote right-handed reliever Austin Voth.

Yankees vs. Fedde:
Giancarlo Stanton: 2-2, RBI
Gleyber Torres: 1-2, HR, RBI, R
Greg Bird: 1-2, HR, RBI, R

What to Watch for:

Gary Sanchez: Something that is on the minds of pretty much every Yankees fan is the elongated slump of Gary Sanchez. In his last 15 games, Sanchez is hitting 6-58 (.103) with one home run and six RBI. His OPS in that time is an unthinkable .390. The Yankees really need Sanchez to get going, because when he is at his best, he may very well be the Yankees best hitter. Right now, he’s not even the best catcher on their roster.

Sonny Gray: Which Sonny Gray are we going to see tonight? It is becoming increasingly hard to ignore his drastic home/road splits this season. At home, Gray is 2-2 with a 7.22 ERA in seven starts. Away from the Yankee Stadium, Gray is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA in six starts. In his last three starts on the road, the 28-year-old right-hander has thrown 22 innings and allowed just two runs (0.82 ERA). The Nationals are 22nd in runs scored, but have gotten healthy in the last week, so it will be interesting to see how Gray fares tonight.


Juan Soto: All 19-year-old Juan Soto has done since being called up on May 20th is deliver offensively. The young Dominican is hitting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI (OPS .976) in his first 77 MLB at-bats. He single-handedly beat the Yankees last Wednesday when he hit two home runs and drove in four to pace his team. Tonight, he gets a rematch with Sonny Gray who was on the mound for the first of those two long balls.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Daniel Murphy: When healthy, Daniel Murphy is the Nationals’ best pure hitter. In his first two years with Washington, Murphy hit .334 with 48 home runs and 197 RBI. This year, he missed the first two plus months with a knee injury before being activated last Tuesday. It has been a rough start for the Washington infielder, as he is just 2-20 with no extra-base hits so far, as he tries to shake off the rust. When on, Murphy takes the Nationals lineup to another level, a level they need to reach considering their mediocre showing so far in 2018.

Series Outlook:
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the two managers will manage the continuation of the first game of the series. Who pitches and who replaces players that are no longer on the active roster will be fun to watch on both sides. As for the second game, it’s all about which Sonny Gray we see tonight. If he continues with his 2018 trend of delivering on the road, then we will probably see good Sonny in this one. Another poor outing from him would certainly be a cause for concern, so this is an important start for Gray. As far as the Yankees are concerned, a split of the two games would be considered a win, as both games are true toss-ups. It should be an interesting night of baseball in D.C.

Preview by: Jake Graziano


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