April 13, 2012;Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (27) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Houston Astros and Washington Nationals Preview

Young arms Jordan Zimmerman and Lucas Harrell will square off in the third game of a four game series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The 4-7 Astros were defeated 6-3 and 1-0 in two close games to start the series, and the 9-3 Nats are looking to “win” the series with a victory in front of their home fans at 7:05 PM ET.

Although Zimmerman is 0-1 this season, he has  1.29 ERA and has been pitching at a high level so far. In his last outing, he allowed just one earned run in seven innings against the Cincinnati Reds, but he took a no-decision. Harrell, by comparison, is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA and was run out of the game by the Miami Marlins after four innings of four-run ball. Harrell has done a solid job so far, and he has shown some promise for the Astros through 11 innings. ZiPS projects a 4.42 FIP for the 26-year-old righty, and watch for his 92 mile per hour fastball in this outing. Just don’t expect many strikeouts from him.

AccuScore believes that the Nationals have a two-thirds chance of winning, and it’s tough to disagree with that. The Nationals have been the best team in the NL East early on, and they are definitely better than the future 100-loss (sorry for the pessimism) team. Still, every game of baseball has a chance to be different and even special.

It’s tough not to be impressed with the play of young LF J.D. Martinez, who has been the best hitter on the Houston Astros early on. He has three homers, ten RBIs, a .437 wOBA, and he is also getting on base at a high rate. Martinez will be a factor in this game, and I will be looking forward to watching him tonight.

Adam LaRoche is having a great start to the season, as he is getting on base at a .418 clip and leads the team with 13 steaks. Jayson Werth, however, has been the best National this season with a .444 OBP, and Ian Desmond is also off to a quality start of the season through 59 plate appearances.

Jordan Zimmerman is on pace for a 3.35 ERA and is picking up where he left off last season after being worth 3.4 WAR in a career year. The quality, underrated right-hander will get more strikeouts as the season wears on, but he has already shown the quality control (just two walks through 14 innings) that has made him a successful pitcher. After posting a sub-40 GB% last year, Zimmerman is already looking like his GB% will be closer to 45% than 39%.

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Tags: Adam LaRoche Houston Astros Ian Desmond J.D. Martinez Jayson Werth Jordan Zimmerman Lucas Harrell Washington Nationals

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