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Nats Catch Break Against Cubs, Face Jerome Williams Saturday

[July 2nd] - Now, don't get me wrong. For all I know, Cubs pitcher Jerome Williams might pitch a 3 hit shutout. But I'll take that chance. He's not Carlos Zambrano. He's not Kerry Wood. He's not Greg Maddux. I like those odds. However, Williams faces Tony Armas Jr, and that greatly evens the odds for a Nationals' win.

Don't let his lack of "name recognition" fool you. Williams has a career record of 18-14 with a good 3.87 ERA. He came to the Cubs in the LaTroy Hawkins deal earlier this year. He's got a quality change up that adds speed to his low 90's fastball. He has troubles going deep into games, and he'll need to learn a third pitch if he is going to be an effective pitcher in the National League. It's hard to say why the Giants gave up on him after winning 10 games in 2004.

Since coming to the Cubs, he's pitched well. Over two games, he has pitched 9 innings, giving up 2 runs, walking 5 while striking out 8. However, 7 of those innings were against the Brewers, so he has yet to prove himself against a quality opponent.

Tony Armas has been, well, bad. In his last 2 games, covering 9 innings, Armas has given up 10 hits and 12 runs, striking out 8 and walking 7. Tony Armas has the talent to be a quality pitcher. Heck, he has been a quality pitcher. But as of right now, when Armas goes to the mound, the Nationals are in a position to lose.

Nats Notes

Two games short of the half way point of the season, the Nationals have spent more time in first place than any other slot in the Eastern division ... days in first (38) days in second (7) days in third (37) days in fourth (7) days in last (0) ... Only St. Louis and Atlanta have more road wins than the Nationals ... Livan's 6 road wins is more than all of last year's starters combined ... The Nats were a league best 20-6 in June ... Washington continues to lead the major leagues in one run wins.

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