It's an immovable object vs. irresistible force series. The Nationals can hit. The lowest OPS in their lineup, .790, would be the third best on the Giants. They have seven players with an OPS over .800; the Giants have one. Small sample size shenanigans are definitely at work for a few of the Nationals players, but they're no joke. That's in stark contrast to the Giants, who might as well write a priest, a rabbi, and a llama into the lineup to get even more laughs.
There's a reason that the Nationals are 10-18, though. Their pitching staff is one of the worst in the game. And there's a reason the Giants are two games above .500 with an offense that's so bad, their starting first baseman is hitting worse than Matt Cain. So either:
a) The Giants' pitching will best the Nationals' offense.
b) The Giants' hitting is so atrocious, it will make the Nationals' staff look good.
c) The Nationals' hitting will be so good, they'll knock around the Giants' staff real ugly like.
d) The Nationals' pitching will be so atrocious, they'll make the Giants' lineup look good.
All of those scenarios are equally likely, with the exception of "d)," which violates several laws of physics (see Newton’s Principia Mathematica, chapter 23, "Called Third Strikes and Double Plays: The Ishikawa Theorem"). The point isn’t to get everyone to say, "Eep! The Nationals are coming!", but I’m sure a lot of folks see the Washington Nationals on the home schedule and count up the wins. Never forget 2006, the season of pain in which we played almost everyone tough except for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Nationals, who whomped us real ugly like. Never forget.
Pitcher to watch:
Shairon Martis is a former Giants’ farmhand, who was traded in a bizarre trade for a left-handed specialist in that miserable 2006 season. Never forget. Brian Sabean has made a habit of sprinkling quasi-useful starting pitching around the league in bizarre roster moves – Carlos Villanueva, Brian Burres, and Boof Bonser come to mind – that never really pan out for the other teams, but Martis is actually looking like a real prospect. He’s only 22, and while his K/BB ratio leaves a lot to be desired, he’s still a pup. He wouldn’t have a spot on the current roster, obviously, but he would at least have value in a trade for dingerz.
I don’t mind trading a guy like Kurt Ainsworth or Ryan Vogelsong for an established starter – or even a live-armed lefty for a pre-arbitration catcher, but the mystery trades for Wayne Franklin and Mike Stanton still kill me. I'm curious to watch Martis pitch.
Hitter to watch:
Nick Johnson will probably be one of the only decent first basemen available around the trade deadline, and even though he pulled his everything as I was typing this, he might be a target for a contending Giants team. He makes about $6M, so that combined with his injury history means the Nationals wouldn’t get a top-ten prospect, which fits the Giants’ "kinda contending, kinda rebuilding" status perfectly should the Giants be within sniffing range of first place in July.