The Nationals will go with the same lineup - save for starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez - as they employed Friday night this afternoon when they try to square the best-of-five National League Division Series against the Cubs at a game apiece.
Today’s key matchup: Nats speedster Trea Turner against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester.
Lester is notorious for his inability to throw to first base, which gives teams with base-stealing threats an advantage. Turner stole two bases against Lester on June 29 at Nationals Park, the same game where he was struck by a 96 mph Pedro Strop fastball, sustaining a non-displaced fracture of his right wrist that sidelined him until late August.
Turner was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Friday night’s 3-0 loss to the Cubs in Game 1. Because he didn’t reach base, the Nationals didn’t have the opportunity to have him create havoc on the basepaths. And without Turner dancing off first base, there weren’t a steady diet of fastballs being thrown at No. 2 hitter Bryce Harper, one of the reasons manager Dusty Baker likes Harper in the two-hole.
No one on the Nationals really did much offensively in Friday night’s loss - singles by Harper and Michael A. Taylor were their only hits - and their speed at the top of the lineup was effectively negated. All of that could change today if Turner and/or Harper can jump-start the offense.
Lester is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in six career starts against the Nats and 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two lifetime starts on South Capitol Street. One of those wins came June 29, when he allowed a run on three hits over six innings, walking three and fanning seven.
Gonzalez is 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Cubs. He took the loss when the Cubs beat the Nats 5-4 on June 26 at Nationals Park, allowing a run on two hits over six innings, with five walks and eight strikeouts.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES - GAME 2
CHICAGO CUBS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 5:38 p.m. EDT
TV: TBS, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, ESPN Radio, XM 89/869, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field
SS Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Jayson Werth
C Matt Wieters
CF Michael A. Taylor
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Albert Almora Jr.
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
C Willson Contreras
SS Addison Russell
RF Ben Zobrist
2B Javier Báez
LF Ian Happ
LHP Jon Lester