Major League Baseball
Cincinnati at Washington
When: 7:05 PM ET, Friday, June 23, 2017
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia

Despite sporting the highest-scoring offense in the National League for the better part of the first half of the season, run production has been a hit-or-miss proposition for the Washington Nationals lately. The NL East-leading Nationals will try to find more consistent offense starting Friday when they host the opener of a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds, who own the worst pitching in the majors.

Since matching its high-water mark of the season at 17 games over .500 with a June 8 win over Baltimore, Washington has faced four teams with losing records and pitching staffs that rank in the bottom half of the majors in ERA. Over that 13-game stretch, the Nationals have either scored three runs or fewer (six times) or at least seven (seven times) - a level of inconsistency which has contributed to their 5-8 mark since beating the Orioles. While wins have been hard to come by of late for Washington, they have been virtually nonexistent for the Reds (30-41), who have dropped 11 of 12 overall to fall a season-worst 11 games below .500. Cincinnati has surrendered an average of six runs during its slide and ranks last in the majors in ERA (5.08) overall.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), MASN (Washington)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Luis Castillo (NR) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.28 ERA)

Castillo, who was the most highly regarded of three prospects Cincinnati acquired in the Dan Straily trade with Miami this winter, is expected to make his big-league debut Friday. The 24-year-old displayed excellent command at Double-A Pensacola, striking out 81 over 80 1/3 innings while walking only 13. Castillo, who is 21-22 with a 2.66 ERA in 169 appearances (54 starts) over his minor-league career, has surrendered only five homers and yielded two runs or fewer in 12 of his 14 outings this season.

Strasburg rebounded from his worst start of the season with a road win Saturday against the New York Mets, allowing two runs on six hits while fanning five across 5 1/3 innings. The two-time All-Star has endured a mediocre June (2-1, 4.24 ERA) after cruising through May (4-0, 2.78) and struggled at home (2-1, 4.15) much more than on the road (6-1, 2.61). Joey Votto is 3-for-11 with two homers against Strasburg, who is 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA in six starts versus the Reds.


1. The Reds have two players (Votto and RF Scott Schebler) with 20 homers after 71 games for the first time since Tony Perez had 26 and Johnny Bench belted 25 in 1970.

2. Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman, who did not play in Wednesday's series finale at Miami, remains one home run shy of passing Vladimir Guerrero (234) for first place in franchise history.

3. Washington won four of its final five meetings with Cincinnati last season, scoring at least 10 runs three times.

PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Reds 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Cincinnati 30-41 L2 19-18 11-23 5-4 15-14 5-14 5-9
Washington 43-29 L1 18-14 25-15 22-15 3-3 12-4 6-7
Last Meeting
Cincinnati Washington
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/3/16 CIN 1 WAS 12 .100 0 .306 .405 6 1.407
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cincinnati N/A
Washington N/A
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cincinnati T. Adleman 0 0 0
Washington M. Albers 0 0 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cincinnati 0.00 .000 0
Washington 0.00 .000 0
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Cincinnati Z. Cozart .320 70 .966
Washington R. Zimmerman .347 85 1.048
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Cincinnati J. Votto 20 52 53
Washington R. Zimmerman 19 48 57
Pitching ERA Avg K
Cincinnati 5.08 .260 540
Washington 4.14 .274 652