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

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May 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws to the Philadelphia Phillies during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

  Alex Wood (4-4, 3.40) vs. Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.55) – 7:05 PM ET, broadcast on MASN2

The Nationals will start Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.55) in a game for the first time since May 29. Strasburg, who was recovering from a left trapezius strain, made his last start in a rehab outing with Harrisburg on June 17. In order to make room for Strasburg on the roster, the organization sent starting pitcher Joe Ross down to triple-A Syracuse:

He went five innings, gave up one earned run on four hits, struck out six, and did not walk a batter against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants). Even in the start against Cincy on May 29, Strasburg never lost velocity and he was hitting 95-97 miles per hour with his fastball last week.

That being said, the Nats need Strasburg to bounce back instead of being a pitcher that had opponents hitting .325 against him. At home this season, he is 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA in four starts, but that is good compared to his 7.62 ERA on the road.

Historically, Strasburg struggles against the Braves. In 17 starts, he is 4-7 with a 4.24 ERA. If Freeman is out, the best hitter against Strasburg on Atlanta is Chris Johnson, who is 8-for-29 against him with three RBI’s.

The Nationals will go up against Alex Wood. The 24-year-old right-hander has had a 3.20 ERA in the month of June. In his four starts, he has not given up more than four runs and he has gone six or more innings in three of those outings.

The unique stat about Wood is that all four of his wins this season have come away from Turner Field. He is 4-1 on the road with a 2.58 ERA. He has made two starts against the Nationals and is 0-1 in those outings with a 6.17 ERA. Harper is 7-for-14 against him with two RBI’s, but Anthony Rendon is better. The Nats’ second baseman is 8-for-13 with a solo home run.

Advantage: There is optimism surrounding Stephen Strasburg’s return and he can’t be as bad as he was to begin the season. Wood has given up only one earned run in four of his last six starts and has to be coming into this start with a lot of confidence. Even with Freeman out, it is unknown which Strasburg will show up for the Nationals. That being said, the offense for the Nats comes in with a lot of confidence off of scoring 19 runs in Pittsburgh. I think the bullpen, with the help of Carpenter, helps pull off a 7-5 kind of win.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup