Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats At Braves (9/29-10/1)

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Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals (80-76) finished up their final few home games this weekend and while they did go 2-2 against the Phillies and Reds, it was more bad than good for the Nats as they were eliminated from the postseason and had some clubhouse drama as well. In the eighth inning of Sunday’s loss, Bryce Harper flew out to left and Jonathan Papelbon yelled at him for not hustling. Then, Papelbon went and grabbed Harper’s throat during a fight. The team has suspended Papelbon for the remainder of the season.

With six games left in what has been a disappointing 2015 season, the Nats will look to finish the year off on somewhat of a winning note on this road trip and try to get their young players some playing time that could play a factor in the 2016 season. First up, it’s a three game series against the Atlanta Braves (62-94), a team that the Nats are 13-3 against this season.

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It’s been a rough rebuilding year for Fredi Gonzalez and company. Since August 1, the Braves are 16-37 and they are coming off a series in which they lost all three games to the Marlins. Coming into this matchup with Washington, Atlanta could be without one of their key players, Freddie Freeman (.280, 18 HR, 66 RBI’s). Freeman has been battling a wrist injury, but he is in the lineup tonight.

Even though Freeman has only played in 113 games, he still leads the team in home runs and RBI’s. Atlanta’s offense has scored the fewest runs and had the lowest slugging percentage in baseball this season. One player to watch is third baseman Hector Olivera. Olivera, who was acquired from the Dodgers at the trade deadline, has 11 RBI’s this month and eight hits in his last five games.

Due to the Braves starting a ton of young pitchers, they have had to go through their fair share of growing pains. Atlanta’s team ERA of 5.33 is the second highest in baseball this month (Oakland A’s – 6.64). Plus, one of their starting pitchers, Shelby Miller, has gone 24 starts without recording a win.

Let’s take a look at who has the edge in each of the three pitching matchups in this series:

Next: Tonight's Matchup