Previewing the pitching (plus Giolito update and lineups)

I guess it’s fitting that for a series which could play a major role in determining the National League East champion, we’ll get three pretty strong pitching matchups.

Tonight, Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 2.38 ERA) and veteran Braves right-hander Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA) will kick things off.

Zimmermann hasn’t faced the Braves yet this season, but he’s 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in three career starts against the boys from Atlanta.

It’s a small sample size, but only one of seven Braves hitters with at least five at-bats against Zimmermann are hitting better than .250 against him. Dan Uggla has just one hit in 10 ABs off Zimmermann, Brian McCann is 1-for-8, Michael Bourn is 1-for-6 and Jason Heyward is hitless in five at-bats.

Zimmermann has held Chipper Jones to just two hits in nine at-bats, but those two hits have both gone for extra bases (a homer and a triple). Martin Prado is 4-for-8 off Zimmermann.

Meanwhile, a couple of Nationals have hit Hudson well over their careers; Jayson Werth is 12-for-33 with three homers and 11 RBIs and Ian Desmond is batting .297 (11-for-37) with two doubles.

Tomorrow, we’ll see Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 2.91ERA) face lefty Paul Maholm (11-7, 3.39 ERA) and Ross Detwiler (7-5, 2.35 ERA) will match up against righty Kris Medlen (4-1, 2.03 ERA) in the series finale.

The Braves have struggled against left-handed starters this season, so Detwiler will be a nice way for the Nats to close out the series.

On a separate note, Keith Law of ESPN has reported that Nats 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito has re-injured his throwing elbow and is set to see Dr. Lewis Yocum, an orthopedic specialist. Giolito made his first start in the Nationals system last Tuesday in the Gulf Coast League, and was pulled after two innings.

Doug Harris, the Nationals’ director of player development, has confirmed to’s Byron Kerr that Giolito is “being evaluated.”

Yocum is the doctor who has performed a number of Tommy John surgeries on Nationals pitchers, including Strasburg, Zimmermann and Sammy Solis. The Nats knew when they drafted Giolito that Tommy John was a possibility with him, but they had hoped to avoid it. We’ll have to see if Giolito needs to follow in Strasburg and Zimmermann’s footsteps.

I hope to have an update on Giolito later today.

The lineups for tonight’s game have been posted.

For the Nats:
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
P Jordan Zimmermann

For the Braves:
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
SS Paul Janish
P Tim Hudson

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