Nats pass major test vs. Cueto and Reds

Nats pass major test vs. Cueto and Reds
May 20, 2014, 3:15 pm
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The Nationals' lineup — in its current, injury-plagued form — is not particularly effective against right-handed pitching. Their .236 team batting average against righties ranks 23rd in the majors this season. (As opposed to their .284 batting average against left-handers, third-best in baseball.)

So tonight's matchup against Johnny Cueto does not particularly favor the Nats. Cueto has merely been the best pitcher in baseball so far this season, with a 4-2 record and 1.25 ERA in nine starts. How good has the Reds right-hander been? Historically good. He's the first pitcher in MODERN BASEBALL HISTORY to pitch at least seven innings and allow fewer than two earned runs in each of his first nine starts of a season. That's remarkable.

The Nationals, who are forced to go with the likes of Tyler Moore and Kevin Frandsen tonight, will need to somehow scratch out a few runs off Cueto (or at least get to the Cincinnati bullpen). But they'll also need a big-time start out of Doug Fister, who was excellent last week in Arizona (one run in seven innings) and tonight makes his Nationals Park debut.

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