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

3 of 4

Jun 18, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller (17) throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.99) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.75) – 7:05 PM ET, MASN2

This offseason, general manager John Hart went out and acquired Shelby Miller from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for right fielder Jason Heyward. So far, despite a rough month of June, Miller has been everything as advertised for Atlanta.

In his last start, Miller took the loss against the Boston Red Sox on June 18, but he did not get much from his defense. He went 5.2 innings, gave up four runs (one earned) on seven hits, struck out four, and walked one in the loss. The last time Miller won a start was May 17, when he was one out away from a no-hitter against Miami. That was six starts ago.

Despite his success not showing up in the win totals, Miller’s 1.99 ERA is the fourth lowest in the National League, but his FIP is at 3.27. In June, he has had some issues with command as he has walked ten batters in four starts, but opponents have not been able to take advantage based on his .205 opponents batting average against.

In his career, Miller has been dominant against the Nats. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA, giving up only two runs in those outings. Rendon is 2-for-8 with a double and a RBI against him, but you won’t find many Nats who have a good history against this guy.

It will be a tall order for Jordan Zimmermann, who has not looked sharp in the month of June. While he has had to throw more pitches in innings a couple of times, the 29-year-old right-hander has a 5.01 ERA in four starts this month.

His last outing against the Rays on June 17 was a step in the right direction. He went seven innings, gave up three runs on eight hits, struck out eight, and walked one. However, he lost his third straight start because of the two home runs he gave up in the fifth inning and because the Nationals didn’t score a run.

In those three consecutive losses, he has given up 13 runs in 15.1 innings and the strikeouts had been down until his last outing, when he had a season-high eight K’s.

Against the Braves this season, Zimmermann is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA, but he did have issues with the bottom of the order in his last start against Atlanta when he gave up three runs over six innings, but walked three batters. Nick Markakis is 5-for-18 against Zimmermann with a RBI.

Advantage: While I do expect both pitchers to have solid outings here, it is tough to ignore how dominant Miller has been against the Nationals in his career. While Zimmermann seemed to have got back on track against Tampa Bay, Miller will outduel him in a pitcher’s duel. Braves win a low scoring game.

Next: Thursday's Matchup