Pitching is a weak spot right now for the Phillies. The club enters Friday with a staff earned run average of 5.35, the highest mark in the majors. Exacerbating the pitching woes is the fact starters have gone beyond the fifth inning just three times, taxing a bullpen that has surrendered a major league leading 12 home runs over the span of just 33 innings.
The Phillies took two-of-three from Washington last week, but the Nationals sit atop the majors in batting average (.300), wOBA (.372), and wRC+ (130).
Aaron Nola toes the rubber on Friday for the Phillies, having fared well against the Nationals last Saturday when he surrendered three runs over six innings with seven strikeouts. Keep in mind, however, he had the safety net of a 12-run first inning and didn't have to worry much about making tough pitches, though his stuff looked good and the velocity was there.
In addition to leading the majors in several offensive categories, the Nationals have hit Nola around before, especially Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Jayson Werth who are a combined 20-for-37 (.426) off the 23-year-old righty. In seven career starts against the Nats he's 1-3 with a 5.26 earned run average.
The Nationals counter Nola with Stephen Strasburg who was tagged by the Phillies last week for three runs over seven innings in a no-decision. He tossed 105 pitches and collected eight strikeouts.
Have You Noticed
Though the Phillies' bullpen brings a 5.73 earned run average into today's series opener in Washington, the trio of Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, and Hector Neris have combined to toss 12 scoreless innings to go with 15 strikeouts.
Major League Baseball announced Friday afternoon the suspension of minor league hurler Elniery Garcia for 80-games without pay for testing positive for Boldenone - a synthetic anabolic steroid.
Friday's Starting Lineup