Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Braves (9/3-9/6)

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Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Teheran (9-7, 4.62) vs. Tanner Roark (4-4, 4.54) – 7:05 PM ET, MASN

With all of the young starters that Fredi Gonzalez has in his rotation, they rely a lot on Teheran to be one of the leaders of their staff. Before his last start against the Yankees on August 30, he had five straight outings of giving up three runs or less.

Then, last Sunday against the Yankees, it all fell apart. Teheran went 4.1 innings, gave up eight runs on nine hits, struck out six, and walked four in the Braves’ 20-6 loss. One of the problems for the 24-year-old right-hander this season is he has struggled away from Turner Field. In 13 road outings, he is 2-5 with a 6.32 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .316 against him (7-2, 3.24 ERA, .212 BAA in 12 home starts).

The Nationals have been one of the teams that have Teheran hard this season. In two starts, he has a 7.59 ERA and the Nats have hit .417 against him in those games with four home runs. Ryan Zimmerman is 5-for-23 with two home runs and seven RBI’s against him in his career.

Since Stephen Strasburg is still recovering from tightness in his back that he injured last Sunday, It will be Tanner Roark who will make the start against Atlanta on Friday. This will be the seventh start Roark has this season as he has been in the Nats’ bullpen for most of the season.

On August 25, Washington sent Roark down to high-A Potomac to get stretched out as a starter. He made one start there before going to double-A Harrisburg, but his outing got cut short because of the Strasburg injury. In that game, Roark went two innings, gave up one run on two hits, struck out two, and did not walk a batter on 34 pitches.

In six starts at the Major League level this year, the 28-year-old is 3-1 with a 5.61 ERA. In ten career outings (five starts), Roark is 3-0 against Atlanta with a 1.90 ERA. This year, he has a 3.18 ERA in three games. Freeman is 7-for-17 against him with three doubles.

Advantage: I expect this game to be high scoring when you consider Roark’s high ERA as a starter this year and what his pitch count might be in this game after being cut short Monday. The Nats have not had much consistency in the middle relief of their bullpen, but the fact that they have been able to hit Teheran well this year should give the Nats the win in a 9-7 kind of game.

Next: Saturday's Matchup