Game 18 lineups: Nats vs. Giants

This homestand began in uplifting fashion, with the Nationals sweeping a day-night doubleheader from the Diamondbacks behind the strong performances of two young starting pitchers. Four consecutive losses later, the vibe has changed dramatically around here. Now the Nats need a win this afternoon just to avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Giants.

We usually focus on the pitching matchup, but let’s start today with the importance of a more well-balanced offensive performance from the Nationals. They’ve scored only nine runs over their last five games, totaling only 31 hits. That’s just not going to cut it, not unless they get ridiculously good pitching to overcome their own lack of scoring.

Seventeen games in, only two players sport an OPS over .750: Josh Bell (.955) and Juan Soto (.893). And Bell had to depart Saturday’s game with a tight hamstring, requiring an MRI this morning. That MRI came back "pretty clean," per Davey Martinez, but Bell won't be in today's lineup out of caution. It's possible he'll be available to pinch-hit later. The Nats simply can’t afford to lose their cleanup hitter for any length of time, but even if they don’t, they need other guys to start producing on a regular basis. They’ll try to get it going this afternoon against Logan Webb, who owns a 2.55 ERA through three starts this season and has yet to surrender a home run.

Martinez had his choice of starters for today’s game, because both Josiah Gray and Joan Adon were on schedule after pitching both ends of the aforementioned doubleheader. He selected Adon for this assignment, holding Gray back for Tuesday’s series opener against the Marlins. Adon was outstanding last time out, shutting out the D-backs on three hits for 6 1/3 innings, still the longest outing of the young season for the Nats. He’ll look to continue that positive momentum today and avoid the big inning that cost him in each of his first two starts.

The Giants, meanwhile, learned this morning outfielder Mike Yastrzemski tested positive for COVID-19. As of this moment, nobody else on either team is impacted, but San Francisco will be playing a man down this afternoon.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, wind 4 mph in from center field

NATIONALS
2B César Hernández
RF Juan Soto
DH Nelson Cruz
C Keibert Ruiz
LF Yadiel Hernandez
1B Maikel Franco
CF Lane Thomas
SS Alcides Escobar
3B Lucius Fox

RHP Joan Adon

GIANTS
RF Joc Pederson
1B Brandon Belt
LF Darin Ruf
SS Brandon Crawford
DH Wilmer Flores
CF Luis González
2B Thairo Estrada
3B Jason Vosler
C Joey Bart

RHP Logan Webb

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