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Series Preview: Washington Nationals @ Milwaukee Brewers

The NL’s second-best team comes to town for what will be their last matchup of the year — at least in the regular season

MLB: Game Two-San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Brewers saw the Washington Nationals, they were the better team for the first 16 innings. That might sound crazy considering how that series ended -- Michael Blazek's 6 home runs allowed and Wily Peralta's last stand -- but it's true.

The Brewers breezed past the Nationals in the first game of that series a little more than a month ago, winning 8-0. They led the first 7 innings of Game 2, before Jared Hughes melted down in the 8th by allowing 2 inherited runners to score before giving up 4 more runs of his own.

From there, it was the Nationals' series, but the Brewers put up an encouraging fight against one of the best teams in the National League.

This time around, the Brewers get a bit of a break with Bryce Harper still on the disabled list following a scary-looking knee injury after slipping on a wet base a couple of weeks ago. The Nationals did get star shortstop Trea Turner back from the 60-day DL earlier this week though, after he missed about two months with a fractured wrist. If Manny Pina still can't go, Turner could be a terror on the basepaths -- he's stolen 35 bases in just 69 games and has only been caught 6 times this year.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Gio Gonzalez vs. Zach Davies

The lefty Gonzalez has continued to outperform his peripheral numbers, escaping enough jams to put up the third-best ERA in the league at 2.40 despite a FIP of 3.86 and a DRA of 3.55. He's struck out 152 batters in 168.2 innings this year, but has also walked 63. He started that fateful middle game in the previous series in Washington, allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings of work, striking out 8. Both of those runs came in the first inning -- a solo home run by Domingo Santana and wild pitch that scored Travis Shaw -- and the Brewers never really threatened against him after that.

Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Tanner Roark vs. Jimmy Nelson

Roark is struggling this year after being last year's Gio Gonzalez. In 2016, he actually finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting after putting up a 2.83 ERA despite a FIP of 3.79. This year, he's actually been a little unlucky, coming into this series with a 4.63 ERA/4.21 FIP. A late bloomer -- he didn't make his big league debut until the age of 26 -- who has never had great (or even good) strikeout stuff, he's actually boosted his strikeout rates this year, but it's come with the price of less control overall -- his walks, hits and home runs per 9 innings have all gone up this year. If the Brewers' bats are still sleep-walking after facing Gonzalez again in the opener, putting Roark in Miller Park might be the remedy.

Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - TBA vs. Brandon Woodruff

This would be Edwin Jackson's spot in the rotation, but the Nationals have yet to announce a starter for Saturday. That could mean it could be top Nationals pitching prospect Erick Fedde making the start after rosters expand, who made a start on Sunday before being sent back down to Triple-A. The Brewers hit Jackson around the park in that 8-0 win earlier in the year, but he's since settled down to lower his ERA to 2.94 with the Nationals. Fedde was a Top-100 prospect heading into the year, but has struggled in 3 big league starts and his velocity was reportedly down on Sunday, leading to some speculation he could be shut down instead of making starts in September.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Max Scherzer vs. Matt Garza

Max Scherzer is good and should probably win the Cy Young award again. I could just leave it at that, but Kyle probably wants me to write more for this so I'll mention he's carrying a 2.21 ERA, has struck out 230 (!) in 167.1 innings (!!) and leads the National league in FIP (2.85), WHIP (0.855), H/9 (5.5), and K/9 (12.4). The odds don't look good here, but it's worth remembering the Brewers did beat Scherzer twice last year -- and one of those times, they started an outfield of Alex Presley, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ramon Flores.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus