Manager: Scott Servais (2nd season)
Last 10 games: 3-7
Who to watch: DH/OF Nelson Cruz (.301/.383/.564 with 11 HR, 37 RBIs), 2B Robinson CanÃ³ (.296/.362/.533 with 8 HR, 28 RBIs), SS Jean Segura (.336/.379/.476 with 22 RBIs), RHP Christian Bergman (1-1, 2.25 ERA), LHP Marc Rzepczynski (1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP)
Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (1-2 in 2014)
Inside the Mariners:
Let's start this opposite dugout with a little trivia. Did you know: The Mariners are 1-11 against the Nationals since the Nats moved to D.C. in 2005? Their only victory over Washington came in their very last meeting, a 5-3 victory in the finale of a three-game series at Safeco Field back in 2014. So history is not on the M's side as they make a rare trip to our nation's capital, their first since 2011.
The Mariners aren't faring well in the present either. After nearly missing out on the playoffs last year in Scott Servais' first season as the skipper, Seattle currently rests at the bottom of the American League West, a league-worst 10 games out of first place. Quite simply, the Mariners are banged up and just aren't getting the same production as they did last year. The team that finished second in the AL last season in home runs is now tied for 13th with just 47. Meanwhile, their pitching has given up the second-most homers in all of baseball (66) while posting the second-worst ERA of 4.84. But I'll explain why that could be a little later.
Slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz leads the team with 11 home runs and is tied for the league lead with 37 RBIs, while slashing .301/.383/.564. But of course, he can't DH at Nats Park, so Cruz is expected to start at least two of the three games this week in right field. Second baseman Robinson CanÃ³ is right behind Cruz among the team leaders, with a slash line of .296/.362/.533, eight longballs and 28 RBIs. Although CanÃ³ has been on the 10-day disabled list with a quadriceps injury, he will reportedly be ready to return on his first day of eligibility today for the series opener. And after being traded in each of the last two offseasons, shortstop Jean Segura is enjoying a strong start to his first season in Seattle, batting .336 while scoring a team-high 26 runs and driving in 20 from the leadoff spot.
I mentioned how bad the pitching has been for the Mariners, but take into consideration that starters Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton are all on the disabled list, along with a handful of relievers. That leaves right-hander Christian Bergman to start tonight's opener. Bergman is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three games (two starts) since being purchased from the minors on May 7. The 29-year-old had a strong showing in his last outing, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball while striking out nine Athletics on May 17. He has given up two runs and two hits (including a home run) in just one relief inning against the Nationals in his career, and has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings of interleague play. Rookie righty Sam Gaviglio brings a 1.29 ERA in two appearances (one start) to his Wednesday night start. He pitched five innings of shutout ball on just three hits against the White Sox in his second big league outing and first start. And former Orioles prospect Ariel Miranda will square off against Gio Gonzalez in a matchup of southpaws for Thursday's afternoon finale. Miranda is 3-2 with a 4.28 ERA (the best qualifying ERA among M's hurlers) in nine starts this season. He hasn't recorded a decision since May 4, but gave up just one run and four hits while fanning nine over seven innings in his last start. Miranda is 1-0 while posting a 6.19 ERA in three career interleague starts.
The Mariners bullpen has the worst ERA in the majors at 5.44, just ahead of the Nationals' 5.40. Nats fans will recognize a name in the back end of the Mariners bullpen. Former Nationals lefty from last year Marc Rzepczynski signed at two-year deal with the M's over the winter and has posted a 1.54 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 18 outings this season. As for the closer, right-hander Edwin Diaz was removed from the role but will reportedly be reinstated in the near future. Diaz has a 4.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 22 strikeouts and seven saves in 17 appearances this season.