Pitching matchups for the two-game series between the Yankees and Nationals

Masahiro Tanaka during a complete game against the Mariners last season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Masahiro Tanaka during a complete game against the Mariners last season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

After a day off on Monday after their sweep of the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim, the Yankees (32-25) will continue their homestand with a brief two-game set against the Washington Nationals. The Yankees, who have won six games in a row and seven of their previous eight, have a 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.

During the team’s six-game winning streak, the starters have allowed two runs or less in every one of those games. It is a recipe for success when you get starting pitching like that. In tonight’s game, Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start at Yankee Stadium since coming off of the disabled list.

He had made four starts before going on the DL with wrist and forearm issues, and his last start was his best in terms of velocity and results as he pitched seven innings against the Seattle Mariners, allowed only one run, didn’t allow a walk and recorded a season-high nine strikeouts. If he can have similar stats and pitch with similar velocity (mid-90s) at Yankee Stadium then it will be even more of an indication that he is back to pitching like he did last year.

The Nationals are slumping once again as they have lost their last two games and have a 2-8 record in their last 10 contests. Here are the pitching matchups for this series against the Nationals, who are in second place in the National League East with a 30-27 record:

Tonight
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76)
vs.
RHP Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Wednesday
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-1, 4.16)
vs.
LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 4.57)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

The Yankees signed Sergio Santos (31)to a minor-league contract on Tuesday afternoon, according to Ken Rosenthal.  He will be sent to Double-A Trenton. The Yankees currently have five lefty relievers in the bullpen, so his addition could help give them another useful righty.

Santos, who is from Los Angeles, had his best season in 2011, when he saved 30 games for the Chicago White Sox and had a 3.55 ERA. In 2010, during his rookie season, he had a 2.96 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.2 innings, but he did have a very high 1.529 WHIP. He was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 27 after allowing seven runs, seven walks and 13 hits in 13.1 innings (4.73 ERA) pitched.

The Yankees will not lose anything if the signing doesn’t work, but if he can pitch like he did during his first two seasons then he will be able to improve the bullpen.

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