The Washington Nationals will be without several key starters again Sunday as they face the host San Diego Padres in the finale of their four-game series. The Nationals have taken two of the first three contests despite missing injured stars Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth, who has been on the disabled list since early June with a bone bruise but could return in 2-3 weeks.
Daniel Murphy was given the day off Saturday as the Nationals fell 3-1 but maintained their 14-game lead atop the National League East. The game marked the encouraging return of Stephen Strasburg, who made his first start since landing on the disabled list on July 27 with an elbow injury and allowed two runs with eight strikeouts over six strong innings. San Diego made news before the game by optioning Hunter Renfroe to Triple-A El Paso after the rookie went 11-for-50 with four walks and 19 strikeouts this month. Jabari Blash was recalled from El Paso to replace the 25-year-old Renfroe, who is batting .230 with 20 home runs and 47 RBIs in 111 games and remains a key part of the team’s rebuilding plans.
TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), FSN San Diego
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (11-5, 2.49 ERA) vs. Padres RH Dinelson Lamet (7-4, 4.78)
Gonzalez recorded his third straight victory after allowing two hits over six scoreless innings Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels. The 31-year-old flirted with a no-hitter for the second time in his last three starts and has allowed a total of three runs over 28 frames in his last four outings. Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in five career starts against San Diego but took the loss in the last meeting on June 19, 2016.
Lamet won his fourth straight decision on Tuesday against Philadelphia, allowing two runs and three hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings. The 25-year-old rookie, who is facing Washington for the first time, owns a 4-1 record and 3.75 ERA in six starts at Petco Park. Lamet has strengthened his case for a spot in next season’s rotation by going 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in three starts this month with one home run allowed in 17 2/3 frames.
1. Washington is 24-15 against the Padres since the start of the 2012 season.
2. San Diego 3B Cory Spangenberg has recorded five multi-hit performances in his last eight contests.
3. Washington RHP Ryan Madson felt pain in his sprained index finger on Saturday and appears unlikely to return from the disabled list when eligible next week.
PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Padres 2