Who in their right minds would think that the Washington Nationals, yes the team that has been the laughing stock of Major League Baseball for the past seven seasons, would be in first place in their division with a 96-63 record?
The Nationals can clinch the NL East for the first time in franchise history with a win over the Phillies tonight. It's depressing to write that.
Tonight Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.08 ERA) will make his final start of the 2012 campaign as he takes on the Nationals for the second straight start. Kendrick has shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, to the rotation again this year. Despite his hesitant numbers, he has not failed to impress.The 28 year-old is coming off of a losing effort against the Nationals last Wednesday. Kendrick was tagged for four earned runs on five hits in just two innings of work. Kendrick gave up three home runs and walked three in that start. In his career, Kendrick is 3-5 with a 5.06 ERA against the Nats.
John Lannan (4-0, 4.23 ERA) will look to clinch the National League East for the Nationals tonight as he takes on the Phillies for the second straight start. Last Wednesday, Lannan earned his fourth win of the year after he yielded two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings of work. Lannan, who has been somewhat of a batting practice pitcher against the Phillies over the years, has two consecutive wins over his NL East rivals. In his first 15 starts against the Phillies, Lannan went 1-12 with a 5.89 ERA.
The Nationals are having by far their best season in franchise history. If you include the time in Montreal, 2012 (.604) and 1994 (.649) are the only two seasons in which they have had a winning percentage of .600 or better. Of course, the 1994 season ended prematurely, ending the Expos' run with a 74-40 record. With three games left to play in 2012, the Nationals' magic number sits at 1. The team they will take on has been on top for the past five years; the Phillies.
Tonight's lineup @ Washington:
- Frandsen 3B
- Mayberry CF
- Utley 2B
- Ruiz C
- Wigginton 1B
- Brown RF
- Ruf LF
- Martinez SS
- Kendrick P.
TV: CSN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.