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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R.A. DICKEY

It is safe to say the Braves helped the Toronto Blue Jays pack their bags after their contentious series this week. As Atlanta catches their breath and plans for a summer without Freeman, R.A. Dickey gets the call to keep the powerful Nationals offense in check first.

At 42, it is hard to gauge how much the knuckleballer had in the tank after four years with Toronto, but his 4.22 ERA translates to an Adjusted ERA+ of 104 for second-highest in the rotation. Strange but true, his ERA is a full 1.25 runs lower than Julio Teheran.

If you are a believer in Fielding Independent Pitching ERA—or FIP—Dickey’s 6.23 is awful. His defense bails him out. Yet, Gio Gonzalez has a FIP of 5.00. Remember, the next person to figure out baseball is the first.

With Bartolo Colon showing signs of age and Jaime Garcia battling control issues, it is important for Dickey to set the tone for the series and pitch well. As silly as the talk is about the Braves contending, a sweep this weekend can put them back in the cellar. For Atlanta, this is a virtual playoff game.

At 3-3, Dickey is the only Braves starter with a .500 or better record. He drew a loss against the Nats on April 20, but held Washington to three runs and hits over seven innings and 73 pitches. Atlanta takes that again in a heartbeat.

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