Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Braves (6/23-6/25)

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Jun 17, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves Nick Markakis (22) hits an RBI single as Boston Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (23) is shown on the play during the seventh inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals (37-33) were coming off losing three of four games to the Tampa Bay Rays and everyone was not sure when Bryce Harper would be back in the lineup. Plus, they were playing a team that came into DC riding an eight-game win streak.

The Nationals were able to get great pitching from all three starters, especially Max Scherzer. The Nationals ace threw a no-hitter on Saturday and was one strike away from a perfect game. Scherzer, Joe Ross, and Gio Gonzalez combined to give up one earned run. As for the offense, they scored 19 runs in three games and got two home runs from Bryce Harper, who returned to the lineup on Saturday.

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The Nationals will conclude their eight game homestand with a three game series against the Atlanta Braves (35-35). In six meetings this season, the Nats are 5-1 against Atlanta and have won five straight games against them. This includes a home sweep of the Braves from May 8-May 10.

Bryce Harper has been great against many teams this season, but take a look at numbers against the Braves. In those six games, he is hitting .455 with three home runs and nine RBI’s. While both teams have changed since the last meeting, there will be a notable Nats killer missing for the Braves this week.

First baseman Freddie Freeman, who is a .340 career hitter against Washington with nine home runs and 44 RBI’s, has not played in a game since June 17 due to a wrist injury. Today, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list:

As for the Braves, they are 10-10 this month, but coming into this series after sweeping the Mets over the weekend and are now within two games of the Nats in the division. In June, the Braves have the best on-base percentage in the NL (.348), and have scored the second most runs (92). One of the players that is having a great month is center fielder Cameron Maybin. He is hitting .347 this month with 13 RBI’s.

When you look at the rotation Fredi Gonzalez has, Atlanta’s staff ERA is at 3.87, which is right about where the Nationals are (3.93). Shelby Miller, who the Nats will see on Wednesday for the first time this season, is 5-3 with a 1.99 ERA and has thrown two complete games (tied with Scherzer).

In the bullpen, while the Braves do not have Craig Kimbrel, but Jason Grilli has stepped in as the closer and saved 20 games in 22 chances. That being said, the Braves’ bullpen is hittable, to say the least. Their team ERA of 4.47 in the ‘pen is the second highest in the NL. Plus, they have to watch David Carpenter, their former setup man, pitch against them for the first time. Let’s take a look at who has the edge in the three pitching matchups this series:

Next: Tonight's Matchup