Washington Nationals: Storylines for last call in Atlanta

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: Ryan Zimmerman /
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One last visit to Atlanta this year as the Washington Nationals begin their final regular season road trip. Here is what you should watch for.

The last regular season road trip of the regular season gets underway for the Washington Nationals as they close the ledger against the Atlanta Braves.

You might be surprised these two teams are 8-8 versus each other this year.  Against the rest of the division, Washington is 34-17. The Braves have outscored the Nats by 20. Only the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies outscored DC this year.

Do not get lulled into thinking Atlanta is a weak team. Even at 67-81, the Braves play hard every night as their core group of youngsters continue to learn their craft. Perhaps that explains why they walloped Washington last week after the Nats clinched their second straight National League East crown.

In September, the Braes are playing .500 ball at 8-8. They are 34-41 at their first season in SunTrust Park and will be a better team once 2018 rolls around.

For Washington, the heavy lifting is over. With the Los Angeles Dodgers leaving, the Nats will not play another game this regular season against a club with a winning record. Series in Philly and New York follow before the last four at home versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

If you enjoy these September battles of expanded bullpens and quiet crowds—most dressed as empty seats early for Halloween—then this is your favorite part of the year.

Most of us yawn at these late-season affairs, but there truly is no such thing as a meaningless game. There are storylines to follow and here are a few.