NBC 5 News
On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2014 season.
The Opponent: The Nationals, perhaps the preseason favorites to win the NL East, have in a skid at the moment, having lost two straight and having won just three of their last 10 games. Young phenom Bryce Harper is still on the disabled list.
Past Meetings: The Rangers are 4-5 all-time against the Nationals, but they took two of three in their last trip to D.C. in 2008.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Colby Lewis (4-3, 5.10 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (3-4, 3.42); Saturday — Nick Tepesch (2-0, 2.95) vs. Doug Fister (2-1, 3.42); Sunday — Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35) vs. Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.47).
What's Hot: Alex Rios also has been on a tear lately, hitting .404 during a 12-game hitting streak. He has a .429 average with 10 RBIs over his last nine games against the Nationals going back to his time with Toronto. Adrian Beltre is hitting .395 over his last 10 games. Twenty-year-old Rougned Odor is batting .391 with a team-high seven RBIs over the last week.
Nate McLouth has just 10 at-bats in the last five games, but he's hitting .400 over that span, and Wilson Ramos is hitting .333. After those two, the Rangers are running into the Nationals at the right time with Harper and Ryan Zimmerman both on the DL.
What's Not: There's really not much here for the Rangers, and that's a good problem to have for Texas. Aaron Poreda had struggled recently after a great start out of the bullpen and was optioned to Round Rock so they could activate starting pitcher Joe Saunders off the DL on Wednesday.
Anthony Rendon is hitting .167 and star shortstop Ian Desmond is hitting just .235 over the last week.
Familiar Faces: Roark was a Rangers draft pick and prospect before being traded to the Nationals in 2010 for Christian Guzman. He hit .282 in Washington and then hit just .152 in 15 games for the Rangers. Meanwhile Roark has become a key piece of the Nationals' rotation.