Legends On Deck

Game of the Week: Nationals at Padres Preview

East meets West and top meets bottom Friday night as the NL East Division-leading Washington Nationals(42-25) continue their four-game set against the San Diego Padres (27-41), currently last in the NL West Division. The Nationals won the series opener Thursday night, 8-5.

Playing for Keeps:

The Nationals have a potent lineup led by that undisputed master of the strike zone, Bryce Harper, who has more walks (56) than hits (52) as of this writing. Second baseman Daniel Murphy,  evidently swinging the same bat he used in the National League Championship Series last fall, is batting at a league-leading .359 clip this season. Catcher Wilson Ramos is working at a career-best pace, batting .339 with 11 home runs, more than two-thirds of his career high long ball production (16, in 2013)  in just 55 games.

The Nats week, however, belongs to third-generation Major League ball player Jayson Werth, who has delivered two walk-off hits in four days: run-producing singles that beat the Phillies 5-4 on Sunday and the Cubs 5-4 in 12 innings on Wednesday, the latter victory on manager Dusty Baker‘s 67th birthday.

Aiming for Stability:

For Andy Green‘s Padres, the trade of starter James Shields to the White Sox on June 4th could be the start of a mid-season sell-off. A week later the tremors in the front office have subsided, however, with the only changes to the active roster the placement of starter Andrew Cashner on the 15-day disabled list (strained neck); the call up of right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson; and the call up of Ryan Schimpf from AAA El Paso, replacing catcher Hector Sanchez who was designated for assignment. Thursday the front office announced the signing of journeyman right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson to a minor league contract.

On the diamond, the Friars are four and six in their last 10 games, The team has received strong contributions from first baseman Wil Myers, who tied teammate Matt Kemp for the team home run lead with his 15th blast in the series opener, and center fielder Jon Jay, who is batting .301 over the last month while contributing solid defense. Myers is probably the best bet to represent the team when Petco Park hosts the All-Star Game on July 12th.

The Matchup:
San Diego: The Padres will start southpaw Christian Friedrich. The Padres purchased Friedrich’s contract from the El Paso Chihuahuas last month and since then the former Colorado Rockies hurler has pitched well, compiling a 3-1 mark with a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings.
Washington: Dusty Baker will send right-hander Joe Ross to the mound.  The 23 year old Californian is the baby of the Nats excellent rotation which features Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Thursday’s starter Tanner Roark. Thus far in 2016, Ross has posted a 5-4 mark with a 3.01 ERA in 71.2 innings.

Family Affair:
Joe Ross is the younger brother of Padres opening day starter Tyson Ross, who is recovering from shoulder inflammation and therefore misses the opportunity for a sibling pitcher’s duel. The younger Ross does share something in common with opposing starter Christian Friedrich, too: Both were first round draft picks chosen 25th overall. The Colorado Rockies drafted Friedrich in 2008. The Padres picked Joe Ross as their number one in 2011 and traded for his brother Tyson in 2012; but Joe went to the Nationals organization in 2014 – part of the complicated three-team trade that belatedly shipped top Padres prospect Trea Turner as a “player to be named” to Washington and sent Myers to San Diego from the Tampa Bay Rays.

New Kid on the Block:

After seven seasons in minor league baseball, utility man Ryan Schimpf made his Major League debut this week for the Padres. Starting at third base on Tuesday, the 28 year-old Schimpf cracked a double off Miami Marlins starter Tom Koehler in his first MLB at-bat. Andy Green started Schimpf the next day and moved the seasoned prospect to second base in the first game against the Nats. A versatile infielder-outfielder, Schimpf has some pop – since 2012 he has hit more than 20 home runs in each of his minor league seasons.

The Late Show:

Game time is 10:40 P.M. ET.



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