The Nationals need a stopper, someone to prevent a single loss from turning into a losing streak and give them some momentum against a weaker opponent.
Facing the Orioles in the middle of three interleague games at Camden Yards, it seemed right-hander Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.83 ERA) would be just the tonic for what ails the Nats. In his career, Scherzer is 7-2 with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.024 WHIP in 14 starts against the Orioles. In Baltimore, he’s made seven starts and gone 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA and 0.871 WHIP.
But shortly before 4:30 p.m., the Nationals announced that Scherzer had been scratched from his scheduled start with right triceps tendinitis and that lefty Jon Lester ( 3-4, 4.99 ERA) would instead start against the Orioles.
Lester is coming off his best start as a National, having worked seven scoreless innings, allowing six hits and striking out seven against the Marlins on Monday. He’s had significant success against the Orioles in his 28 career starts, going 15-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.289 WHIP. At Camden Yards, he’s 8-2 in 14 lifetime starts with a 2.95 ERA and 1.223 WHIP.
Current Orioles have a cumulative .192/.295/.404 slash line off Lester. Ryan Mountcastle is 1-for-2 with a homer and four RBIs off him.
The Orioles will send righty Matt Harvey (4-10, 7.13 ERA) to the mound, and The Dark Knight has been struggling to recapture the glory he found with the Mets early in his career. He’s always been hittable against the Nationals, and Harvey is 1-5 with a 5.36 ERA in nine lifetime starts against them.
Harvey was the losing pitcher in a 6-5 setback in D.C. on May 23 when he gave up six runs (five earned) in 4 2/3 innings in a game won by Patrick Corbin. Harvey threw six shutout innings in his last start.
Current Nationals own an aggregate .271/.313/.450 slash line off Harvey, with five homers and 17 RBIs. Josh Harrison is 8-for-17 (.471) and Ryan Zimmerman is 6-for-23 (.261) with two homers and three RBIs.
Before announcing their lineup, the Nats recalled third baseman Carter Kieboom from Triple-A Rochester, where he’d hit .236 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 44 games. Kieboom has hit safely in seven of his last 11 games, going 11-for-43. He takes the place of infielder Jordy Mercer, who was placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to July 21) with a left calf strain.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Gametime: 6:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, wind 9 mph to right field
2B Alcides Escobar
SS Trea Turner
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell
DH Ryan Zimmerman
3B Josh Harrison
LF Gerardo Parra
C Tres Barrera
CF Andrew Stevenson
LHP Jon Lester
CF Cedric Mullins
RF Austin Hays
1B Trey Mancini
DH Ryan Mountcastle
SS Ramón Urías
C Pedro Severino
3B Maikel Franco
LH Ryan McKenna
2B Pat Valaika
RHP Matt Harvey