The Chicago Cubs head to face the Washington Nationals for a weekend series.
Chicago is first in the NL Central, while the Nationals are looking up from fourth in the NL East.
In what should be a pitching duel, Cole Hamels is scheduled to start for the Cubs and Max Scherzer will be on the mound for the Nationals.
Offensively, the Cubs are built around the long ball, having hit 58 home runs this season. Javier Baez heads the attack with 11 home runs, 29 RBI and a .325 batting average.
Willson Contreras is tied with Baez with 11 home runs and has knocked ni 25.
Anthony Rizzo completes the trio of double-digit home run hitters, with 10 and 29 RBI.
Kris Bryant has added significant punch to the attack with eight home runs and 26 RBI. As a team, the Cubs are hitting .255 with 5.4 runs scored per game.
The Nationals have hit 52 home runs in a more balanced attack.
No player has more than six home run, but Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Howie Kendrick and Victor Robles all have hit that mark.
Kendrick and Rendon are batting over .300, but as a team the Nationals are batting only .236 with 4.4 runs scored per game.
On the mound, Cole Hamels is 3-0 with a solid ERA of 3.08. He’s struck out 49 in 49 2/3 innings, whle allowing only 36 hits and six home runs.
The bull pen has also been a strength. Steve Cishek has struck out 21 in 19 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.75.
Brandon Kintzler and Brad Brach have combined to allow only eight earned runs in 35 innings.
As a team, the Cubs have allowed a stingy 3.9 runs per game.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer has a relatively mediocre ERA by his standards of 3.64, but has struck out 79 and walked only 10 in 59 1/3 innings.
The bull pen has been up inconsistent. Sean Doolittle, Kyle Barraclough and Justin Miller have combined for a 2.47 ERA in 47 1/3 innings.
However, Matt Grace, Wander Suero and Joe Ross have been a nightmare, pitching to a 7.35 ERA in 45 1/3 innings. As a team, the Nationals have allowed five runs per game.
The Nationals will likely have a tough time scoring against Hamels, who has been sharp all season.
The Cubs live by the long ball, however, going deep against Scherzer is a tall order. This should be a pitcher’s duel.
Look for at the most four runs by the Nationals and three or less for the Cubs.