Preview: 3 things to watch for as the Nationals host the Pirates

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After back-to-back series wins on the road, the Nationals return home to face Pittsburgh, their first series against a non-NL East foe.

Here are three things to watch for:

  1. Can Rendon stay hot? Anthony Rendon is off to a blistering start to the 2019 season, currently on a 10-game hitting streak and leading the National League with a .429 batting average. He’s flexed his power during this stretch, too, hitting four home runs, seven doubles and driving in 14 runs. Pirates pitchers currently have the fifth lowest combined ERA in baseball (2.84), so expect Pittsburgh to challenge Rendon this weekend.
  2. Will Scherzer miss a start? Max Scherzer took a comebacker off his ankle in last Sunday’s win over the Mets, and as of Wednesday it was still bothering him. He’s scheduled to start Saturday afternoon against the Pirates, but there’s still some doubt if he’ll be ready to go by then.
  3. Bullpen finally finding its form? Much criticized to start the season, the Nats bullpen pitched quite well during the series against the Phillies earlier this week. Despite facing the MLB’s most exposed bullpen setting at Citizens Bank Park, Washington relievers gave up just two runs total over the three-game set; Trevor Rosenthal even recorded his first out of the year! But was it just momentary success, or something that will continue over the next few weeks and months? Only time will tell.

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