Friday, April 15, 2016

Phillies host Nationals on Jackie Robinson Day

The last time the Nationals were at Citizens Bank Park, they were in desperate need of a sweep to gain ground on the division-leading Mets. That was Sept. 14 of last season, and Washington got what it needed. That, however, was not enough, as the Nationals missed out on the division by seven games.
This time, it's the Phillies looking to pick up ground on the Nats. Philadelphia is alone in second place in the National League East, trailing Washington by 2 1/2 games entering Friday's contest. Friday is also Jackie Robinson Day, and all players, managers and coaches will don No. 42 jerseys in honor of Robinson's contributions to baseball.
Jeremy Hellickson and Joe Ross will face off in the first of 19 games between the division rivals this season. Who the Nationals would be throwing was up in the air after Stephen Strasburg was scratched with illness on Wednesday. But with Stras getting the nod in the Nats' series finale against the Braves on Thursday, Ross is expected to claim his spot in the rotation for Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET matchup.

Three things to know
• Jonathan Papelbon will be returning to Philadelphia for the second time since he was dealt just before the July 31 Trade Deadline last season. He surrendered a game-tying home run to Freddy Galvis in the 10th inning his first time back in September of last year. Papelbon has started this season by converting his first five save attempts.
• Among their NL East foes, the Phillies have the second-highest winning percentage against the Nationals since 2010, going 54-57 (.486). They've only had more success against the Marlins in that time span (.604 winning percentage).
• The prospect the Phillies received from the Nationals, 23-year-old right-hander Nick Pivetta, began the year with Double-A Reading. Since he was acquired last year, he's posted a 7.88 ERA in eight starts, all for the Fightin' Phils. He's No. 19 on the Phillies' Top 30 list.

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