Washington Nationals: 5 to watch against Atlanta again

rjuckett
May 18, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Matt Wieters (32) high-fives second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) crossing home plate after Murphy hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Matt Wieters (32) high-fives second baseman Daniel Murphy (20) crossing home plate after Murphy hit a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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For the second time this year, the Washington Nationals make their way south to SunTrust Park and the Atlanta Braves. Here are five players to watch.

This has not been the best of weeks for the Washington Nationals.

Dropping two of three at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Nats gave the effort of a team struggling to carry a winning record. The bullpen caused fits. The defense was strangely bad and Washington played as a tired team.

Not the style you want to show with 122 games left in the season. Sure, every team goes through stretches where they look sloppy while giving games away. As the Nats move on to Atlanta, put the annual visit to Steel Town in the dustbin and move on.

This is the second visit to the new SunTrust Park for the Nats. A month ago, at the start of a 10-game road trip, Washington swept the Atlanta Braves grabbing a stranglehold on the division.

Two key players for the Nats are not in this second series. Adam Eaton’s knee sidelined him for the rest of the year while Joe Ross tries to find himself in Triple-A Syracuse.

The Braves are missing their best player too. Freddie Freeman has a fractured wrist following getting plunked Wednesday night by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Loup in the bottom of the fifth. The Nats killer will miss 10-12 weeks, returning in August if all goes well.

Atlanta finds themselves in second place and can climb to within five games if they sweep. Never give a young team hope as they feed off it, giving the Braves a true shot to make noise in the NL playoff race.

Now that we have reviewed who will not play, here are five to watch Friday night, late Saturday afternoon and Sunday as the Nats and Braves tangle in Smyrna.

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