Game Preview: Rockies vs. Nationals

Patrick Smith

The Colorado Rockies stumble out of Canada and into our nation's capital to duke it out with the Washington Nationals. There are a number of interesting story lines at play tonight; most notably the debut of Roy Oswalt.

Okay, we get it Rockies. You don't like Canada. Whether it's the metric system, Justin Bieber, or the unsettling good cheer of its inhabitants, something about the great white north brings out the worst in the Colorado Rockies. In nine tries the Rocks have a grand total of zero victories in Toronto. It's just one of those things.

The Washington Nationals have been far more accommodating, allowing the Rockies to go 23 and 12 against them since 2008. The Rockies need a good series here. This crucial nine game road trip (the first since Troy Tulowitzki went down) is off to a disappointing 0 and 3 start. In an effort to halt the slide, the Rockies will turn to a new face.

Roy Oswalt is finally joining the big club after a smattering of Minor League tune ups. He's taking Jeff Francis' roster spot, and while I have fond memories of the big lefty, I won't miss his 6.58 ERA. Oswalt pitched to a 2.16 ERA in five AA starts, and has one of the most impressive resumes of any active pitcher. Fans shouldn't expect Oswalt to match the numbers he put up in his prime, but hopefully the 35 year old still has something left in the tank.

The Rockies may be without their best player, but they aren't alone in that regard. Bryce Harper, the 20 year old phenom, is currently sitting out with a knee injury after playing chicken with a wall (the wall won). The Nationals' offense without Harper has been various shades of disappointing, as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Jason Werth, and Danny Espinosa have all had tough seasons. Balancing those disappointments out are solid seasons from Ian Desmond and rookie Anthony Rendon. Still, at 35-36 the Nationals have been a disappointment so far, as many preseason pundits considered them one of the best teams in baseball.

Jordan Zimmermann will be taking the hill for the Nats. Zimmermann is a tough cookie; his ERA sits at a stingy 2.44 and he has nine wins to his name. He has allowed only a .238 batting average on balls in play, suggesting that he's been somewhat lucky this year; however, there's no doubt that his 95 mph heater is tough to barrel up. For a Rockies offense that was muzzled in Toronto, Zimmermann will provide yet another challenge.

Rockies Lineup

1. Tyler Colvin (CF)

2. DJ LeMahieu (2B)

3. Carlos Gonzalez (LF)

4. Michael Cuddyer (RF)

5. Nolan Arenado (3B)

6. Todd Helton (1B)

7. Yorvit Torrealba (C)

8. Jonathan Herrera (SS)

9. Roy Oswalt (P)

Nationals Lineup

1. Denard Span (CF)

2. Anthony Rendon (2B)

3. Ryan Zimmerman (3B)

4. Adam LaRoche (1B)

5. Jason Werth (RF)

6. Ian Desmond (SS)

7. Steve Lombardozzi (LF)

8. Kurt Suzuki (C)

9. Jordan Zimmermann (P)

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