Washington Nationals: 5 storylines to watch post NL East clincher

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 10: Lane Adams /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The Washington Nationals continue their long homestand with a three game series against the Braves. Here are 5 storylines to keep an eye on

With 19 games to go, the Washington Nationals (88-55) already have the NL East locked up. They clinched their fourth division title in six years on Sunday thanks to winning three out of four games against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Marlins losing three out of four to the Braves.

There were many fun things to watch over the weekend, but the two best performers were Stephen Strasburg and Michael Taylor. Taylor had an inside-the-park grand slam on Friday and Strasburg kept his scoreless inning streak with eight dominant innings on Sunday.

Now, the only thing the Nats have left to play for in the regular season is maybe the number one seed as they are surprisingly close to catching the Dodgers. Before the Dodgers, the Nats will play a three game series against Atlanta at Nats Park.

This season, the Washington Nationals are 7-6 against the Atlanta Braves, but the Braves have outscored them 77-68. However, this is the first series between the two teams since the All-Star break. Since that last series, Atlanta is 22-33, but they are 5-5 in their last ten games.

Of course, when you talk about the Braves, Freddie Freeman’s name is going to come up. Atlanta’s first baseman is hitting .297 with nine home runs and 32 RBI’s over his last 55 games. His four home runs over the last month are tied with Matt Adams and Matt Kemp for the most on the team.

Atlanta has a decent offense, but their starting pitching still has a lot of room for improvement. Their 4.94 ERA is the third highest in the National League and they have only one pitcher on the staff with a winning percentage of .500 or better (R.A. Dickey – 9-9). They are hoping young pitchers like Sean Newcomb and Luiz Gohara could lead the rotation in the future.

As for the bullpen, Atlanta’s relievers have the highest ERA in the NL (4.70) and are tied for the fourth fewest strikeouts (437). Right now, Arodys Vizcaino is the closer and he’s converted eight straight saves, but the rest of the bullpen has been bad. Check out this stat from three days ago courtesy of Mark Bowman of MLB.com

Now, let’s take a look at the three pitching matchups for this series

Tonight: Julio Teheran (10-11, 4.77 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (14-6, 2.50) – 7:05 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN

Tomorrow: Luiz Gohara (0-1, 13.50) vs. Max Scherzer (14-5, 2.32) – 7:05 p.m, MASN

Thursday: Mike Foltynewicz (10-12, 4.74) vs. Tanner Roark (12-9. 4.48) – 7:05 p.m, MASN2

Without further ado, here are five storylines to keep an eye on starting with the youth movement down in Atlanta