Legends On Deck

Game Of The Week: Phillies vs. Nationals – May 24th

GOW8

Matchup

These two teams have faced off seven times already this season, with the Nationals taking 4 out of 7 from the Phillies. Historically they’ve played each other 788 times, going all the way back to 1969 when the Nats were still the Expos. The Phillies have won 413 of those meetings, and the Nats have taken 373 games. So far in 2015 the Nats have gone 21-17, good for second place in the NL East. The Phils are just 16-23 and in last place, but have won five games in a row.

Last Season

Phillies:

The Phillies finished the 2014 season with a record of 73-89, good for last place in the NL East. Philadelphia has been in a downward spiral the past three seasons, going 73-89 and 81-81 in 2013 and 2012 respectively after having the best record in baseball in 2011.

Nationals:

Washington was considered by many to be the odds on favorite to be National League’s best team, and during the regular season they didn’t disappoint. The Nats finished with a 96-66 mark, the NL’s best record. However they failed to carry that success into the playoffs, as they were eliminated in the first round by the San Francisco Giants.

Managers

Phillies:

After a brief time as interim manager in 2013, Ryne Sandberg was named permanent manager at the end of the 2013 season and given a three year contract. Sandberg, a Hall of Famer as a player, began his career with the Phillies in 1981. He was traded to the Cubs before the 1982 season, and the rest is history. However, so far as a manager Sandberg has yet to find the same success as he did as a player, compiling just a 108-134 record as Phillies skipper.

Nationals:

Matt Williams‘ managerial career go off to a tremendous start in 2014. He finished with a 96-66 record on his way to winning the Manager Of The Year award in the NL. The former All-Star player has his team off to another good start in 2015, leading them to a 21-17 record early on.

Key Additions/Subtractions

Phillies:

This offseason the Phillies made the difficult decision to trade longtime shortstop and former MVP Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. They also struck deals that sent veterans Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo packing. They avoiding any big ticket signings, instead bringing in veteran pitchers Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley. Harang has been a godsend, pitching to a 2.03 ERA in his first eight starts. The oft-injured yet talented Billingsley has no fared as well, posting a 6.75 ERA in just three starts and is currently on the DL with a shoulder strain.

Nationals:

The Nationals made possibly the biggest signing of the offseason, agreeing to a 7-year, $210MM pact with right-hander Max Scherzer— a move that bolstered an already top notch starting rotation. Scherzer has rewarded the Nats boldness by dominating his opponents so far in 2015, registering a 1.75 ERA and a 66/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Washington also brought in veteran infielder Yunel Escobar in a deal that sent longtime setup man Tyler Clippard to Oakland. Escobar has also played well, slashing .328/.372/.403 with a pair of longballs while filling in at third base for the injured Anthony Rendon.

Top Prospects

Phillies:

Shortstop J.P. Crawford was the Phillies 1st round pick in 2013, and the 16th pick overall. The 20-year old has compiled a .296/.390/.407 slash line so far in 108 minor league games. So far in 2015 he’s hit .371 with a home run in 10 games. He should stick at shortstop defensively, and is a good hitter with an advanced approach and plus speed– making him one of the top prospects in the game.

Nationals:

Lucas Giolito, the Nationals 2012 first round pick, is a 6’6″ right-hander. He’s also the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, featuring two of best pitches in all the minors. The first is his fastball, an 80-grade monster offering that touches 98. His curveball is just as nasty, coming in in the low-80’s and unhittable when it’s good. So far in 2015 Giolito has pitched in just two games in A-ball, and has a 5.23 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 10.1 innings.

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Kirk Cahill

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Kirk is very knowledgeable of MLB's minor league system and brings a passion for writing about the stars of tomorrow. Kirk is also a contributing writer for MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net. He is a native New Yorker and lifelong Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @KirkC_.