Washington Nationals at Braves Series Preview (8/18-8/21)

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Aug 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Rob Whalen (63) pitches during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Reynaldo Lopez (1-1, 5.74 ERA) vs. Rob Whalen (1-1, 7.31) – 7:10 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN

The pitching matchup tonight is a rematch of last Saturday’s game when the Washington Nationals beat the Braves 7-6. Let’s start with Lopez, who picked up his first Major League win in that game. The 22-year-old right-hander went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits, struck out two, and walked two on 100 pitches in the win.

Even though Lopez didn’t get many strikeouts Saturday night, he still showed good command of the strike zone. Out of the 28 batters he faced, he threw 19 first-pitch strikes. He did give up a Freddie Freeman home run in the first, but was able to recover nicely.

As for Whalen, he had a rough outing against the Nats offense. Whalen went five innings, gave up six runs on six hits, and struck out five on 84 pitches in the loss. In that outing, Whalen gave up a pair of home runs to Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner.

Saturday night’s outing was the third start of the careers of both of these pitchers. The 22-year-old right-hander has thrown at least five innings in each of his first three starts. Since walking four in his Major League debut, Whalen has only one walk in his last two games.

Prediction: This matchup is interesting because the Washington Nationals are going to need Lopez to eat some innings due to the bullpen being taxed in Colorado. Tonight, the Nats will have A.J. Cole in the bullpen after they sent Brian Goodwin down to triple-A.

Cole made his Major League debut last year against the Braves at Turner Field and was awful (two innings, nine runs, nine hits). I expect Lopez to go at least five innings, but I will take the Braves to win the series opener.

 

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup

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