The Phillies will meet their former teammate Jayson Werth in the park that has become known as "Citizens Bank South" when they travel to DC to face the Nationals this evening. Since the Nationals opened their new park, it's been filled with Phillies fans everytime the Fightins are in town, a fact that has become a major source of embarrassment to Nationals fans.
The most notorius case was opening day last year, when Nationals Park was filled by probably 75% Phillies fans on hand to watch Roy Halladay's debut. The park was filled with chants of "this is our house" and prompted local columnists to call for Nationals management to change their ticketing policy to limit out of towners from filling the ballpark. Don't count on a team trying to turn away people buying tickets...
Of course, all those visiting Phillies fans surely helped the Nats to afford the 7 year, $126 million deal they gave to soon to be 32 year old Jayson Werth. Werth has struggled early on in his Nats career hitting .200 with seven strikeouts and just one RBI on the year. He managed only one hit in Washington's previous series with the Mets. The man who replaced Werth in right for the Phillies, Ben Francisco, has started out hot hitting .306 with a couple of home runs and getting on base at a .375 clip. Of course, we're incredibly early in the season and the smart money says that both of these guys will drift closer to their career averages as the season wears on.
In addition to Werth's struggles, the Nats lineup is also hurting from the loss of 3B Ryan Zimmeran, who is headed to the DL with an abdominal injury. Zimmerman hit .347 with a 1.012 OPS against the Phillies last year.
Back to Werth, he will likely find it tough to break out of his slump in games two and three of this series as the Phillies send Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to the mound, but he might have some luck against tonight's starter, Joe Blanton. The big righty was knocked around for seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets in his season debut.
Kentucky Joe has pitched fairly well against the Nats going 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts against them last season. Washington will counter with veteran Livan Hernandez, who hasn't faced the Phillies since 2009. In fact, he's made just three starts against them since 2006, so there's not many worthwhile numbers from him versus the bulk of this roster. Lifetime he's 11-10 with a 3.60 ERA versus the Phils.
Like Blanton, Hernandez will be looking to bounce back from a poor start where he allowed four runs, six hits and a five walks in five innings against the Marlins.