If you think about it, this weekends series is the best thing that can happen to the Braves at this point.
Sure after the last miserable 10 days of dropping 8 straight games, it wouldn’t take a whole lot for things to start going better for the Braves, but this 3 game set against the Nationals could serve as the catalyst that ignites a fire in the powerful engine that is the Atlanta Braves. But it also takes two to tango, and Fredi Gonzalez is going to have to suspend his usual, familiar dance if he wants to lead his team to the playoffs. And no, I mean something more than hitting the pitcher 8th.
Coming home is always good for the Braves, but it is especially good when you come home to a division rival you tend to beat up on. Even more so when you trail said team by 4 games in the standings. Last time out, the Braves were only able to split a 4 game set with the Nats, but have managed a 7-3 record against the team this year, including a sweep at Turner Field. Over the past 3 years (also known as “since the Nats became relevant”), the Braves have a 28-19 record against Washington. The Braves should be aiming for nothing short of a sweep.
Another potentially positive sign is that the Braves will be facing three very familiar arms in Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark. Strasburg and Gio both carry lifetime ERA’s of over 4 against Atlanta (Gio has a whopping 5.31 in 57.2 career), while Roark hasn’t made it out o the 5th inning in either of his starts against the Braves in 2014.
The key to winning this series is to silence the Nationals two hottest hitters in Anthony Rendon and Denard Span, both players with the ability to frustrate and put an immense amount of pressure on the opposing pitcher and defense. Span will run if let on base, so the Braves should avoid giving him anything to hit on the ground. Likewise with Rendon, who has 11 steals but is much more of a complete hitter. Watch out for these guys, although it may be hard to do, considering you never know what Matt Williams is going to do with one of his lineups.
7:35 PM EST, Friday, August 8th
Probables: Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.39 ERA) vs Ervin Santana (10-8, 3.59 ERA)
7:10 PM EST, Saturday, August 9th
Probables: Tanner Roark (11-7, 2.94 ERA) vs Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.41 ERA)
8:05 PM EST, Sunday, August 10th
Probables: Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.01 ERA) vs Alex Wood (7-9, 3.20 ERA)
Tags: Atlanta Braves