Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Nationals (67-65) were looking to make a statement out in St. Louis against arguably the best team in baseball. They had chances to win all three games, but blew late leads in the first two games. However, last night, Ryan Zimmerman was able to lead the Nats to a win thanks to his two home runs and three RBI’s.
Zimmerman comes into this weekend’s aeries against the Braves locked in at the plate. He went 7-for-14 in the three games against the Cardinals with four runs scored, two doubles, four home runs and eight RBI’s. Plus, he has seven home runs in his last ten games. However, will the Nats be without Bryce Harper, who left last night’s game due to left glute tightness.
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With 30 games remaining, the Nationals are still 6.5 games behind the Mets, but they have a chance to gain a half game on New York since the Mets are off tonight. Tonight also marks the beginning of a seven game homestand. It starts with a four game series against the Atlanta Braves (54-79), who have been reeling for the last couple of months.
Since the All-Star Break, Fredi Gonzalez’s club is 12-32 and they have lost 22 of their last 30 games. Plus, their 21 road wins are the fewest of any team in baseball. The Braves’ offense has scored the fewest runs in baseball of any team since the break (132). However, right fielder Nick Markakis (.298, 2 HR, 48 RBI’s) is hitting .307 since the All-Star Break with two home runs and 20 RBI’s. Of course, you have to still watch first baseman Freddie Freeman (.280, 15 HR, 50 RBI’s). Freeman is a career .340 hitter against Washington with nine home runs and 44 RBI’s.
As far as the rotation goes, Atlanta is 26th in team ERA as they have had to fill their rotation with a lot of young starters. One of their starters, Mike Foltynewicz, was recently put on the 15-day disabled list. But, pitchers like Shelby Miller have been hurt by Atlanta’s lack of offense because Miller hasn’t won a game since May 17.
The bullpen also looks different for the Braves since they don’t have Craig Kimbrel, Jason Grilli, or Jim Johnson in the bullpen. Arodys Vizcaino is the team’s new closer and has converted on all four of his save chances. This is a series the Nats should have no problem with when you consider they are 9-3 against Atlanta this season.
Let’s take a look and see who has the edge in each of the four pitching matchups this weekend:
Next: Tonight's Matchup