Sep 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) celebrates with Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (24) after the final out in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies, 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
4. April 27 – 29 at Atlanta Braves
Is there any real doubt which team has been the Nationals’ biggest rival the past few seasons? The Braves have been there to play the Montague to the Nationals’ Capulet, constantly knocking Washington down every time they’d started to build even the slightest bit of momentum.
That finally seemed to change in 2014. In spite of floundering against the Braves for the early part of the season, the Nationals finally managed to turn things around in the second half. They ended the season 8-11 against Atlanta, but they took 2 of 3 in the last two series of the year. A lot of the Nationals 2015 hopes will depend on beating division opponents, and that will hinge on them continuing their success against their biggest rival.
Fortunately for the Nats – and sadly for the rivalry – the Braves appear to be in a bit of a rebuilding year. They’ve dumped a lot of their key players, including outfielders Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis. It’s hard to believe that they won’t be competing for a shot at the playoffs, but from their offseason moves, it’s pretty apparent that they are taking the team in a new direction.
Hopefully, the Nationals can take advantage and crush the Braves in this, their first series against their biggest menace and my fourth ranked series of 2015.