What to Watch for: 4.25.13

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Cincinnati Reds (13-9) vs. Washington Nationals (10-11)

RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.54) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.85)

The Nationals and Reds open up a four-game weekend set as southpaw Gio Gonzalez takes on veteran righty Bronson Arroyo Thursday night. Gonzalez is 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA (2 ER/19.0 IP) in three career starts against the Reds, including his stellar Nationals home debut last year, in which he twirled 7.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi 3B

3. Harper LF

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

BUZZARD’S LUCK

The Nationals currently rank 14th in the National League and 24th in Major League Baseball in batter BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) at .273. By excluding all homers, free passes and K’s produced by the offense, BABIP measures the percentage of batted balls that fall for hits and is a product of team speed, how hard a team hits the ball, the efficiency of the defense and random luck. With the addition of Denard Span, the ‘13 Nationals are likely faster than the ‘12 squad, which ranked fourth in the NL and fifth in MLB with a .308 BABIP. Washington’s drop off (-.035) in BABIP from 2012 to ‘13 is the largest in MLB.

FOR STARTERS

After Stephen Strasburg allowed just 3 runs on 5 hits in 7.0 innings on Wednesday, Nationals starting pitchers have now allowed three earned runs or less in eight of the last nine games.

GOOD COMPANY

Ian Desmond’s NL-leading 12 extra-base hits (eight doubles, one triple, three homers) are tied with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano and Oakland’s Jed Lowrie for the MLB lead among middle infielders.

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