Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs: Game 3 Preview

For awhile during the series, it seemed as if the demons of the Washington Nationals’ past were starting to creep back up again.  The formula was all to familiar for Nats fans: dominant pitching performances, but no offensive production to match it.  How quickly things can change with a few key swings of the bat.  Bryce Harper broke open Game 2 of the NLDS with a mammoth home run shot to right field to tie up the game 3-3. Ryan Zimmerman then hit a three-run homer of his own in the same inning to put the Nats up for good.

So who will the Nationals turn to, now that the series moves to the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field? For starters, Max Scherzer looks poised and ready for a dominant performance today.  Scherzer, who tweaked his hamstring late in the season, is finally looking ready to get back to his elite self. Scherzer was also recently quoted as saying that he fully plans to throw at least 100 pitches during this pivotal game.

Pitching has never really been an issue for this Nats squad all season, with the exception of the bullpen early in the season.  The team seems to have resolved those early season issues, with a three-headed approach of Doolittle, Madson, and Albers to close out games. The major concern this October is a familiar approach: will the bats go silent when it matters most? Trea Turner, batting lead-off for the past two games, remains hitless and has been striking out at an alarming rate.  The Nationals really need to him to get going in order for them to keep momentum on their side.

Ryan Zimmerman, Game 2’s hero, seems to be finding his swing yet again, and will be looked to again for production in the middle of the lineup.  If Murphy, Zimmerman, and Werth get going early, the Nationals will have no trouble grabbing a series lead over the Cubs behind the commanding pitching performance of Max Scherzer.

Prediction: Nationals 7 – Cubs 3

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

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