Although Atlanta’s abysmal 44-74 record stands as the worst in the MLB, they have numerous reasons to hope for better days. Chief among those reasons actually just arrived in the city, and his name is Matt Kemp. Kemp was traded to the Braves from the Padres, where he was enjoying a very successful 2016 campaign. He has 24 homers and 75 RBI’s this year, and he’ll look to improve upon those numbers against Washington this weekend. Another bright spot for Atlanta in 2016 is first baseman Freddie Freeman. Not only has he hit for the cycle this year, but he’s racked up 23 home runs, 54 RBI’s, and a stellar .287 batting average. With the addition of some more depth in the starting rotation and a couple more veterans in the field, the Braves could be much better next year. However, they're 1-8 against Washington this season and 0-2 at home.
On the other hand, the Nationals have experienced a resurgence of form in their organization. Moves by the front office like acquiring manager Dusty Baker and second baseman Daniel Murphy, as well as releasing closer Jonathan Papelbon, have all worked out beyond anyone’s expectations. A healthy Steven Strasburg hasn’t hurt either. The Nats made one of the best moves at the trade deadline when they acquired closer Mark Melancon, who’s perennially one of the best in the MLB at accumulating saves. Washington possesses one of the deepest batting orders around, complete with big bats like Harper, Murphy, and Wilson Ramos as well as solid role players like Jayson Werth, Ben Revere, and Anthony Rendon. Their only loss in nine games to the Braves surprisingly occurred in a Strasburg start, though that didn’t deter the Nats from taking the series anyway.
The Braves’ ace, Julio Teheran, is scheduled to start Friday. He’s returning from the DL, but he’s fully prepared to take on his division rival. Despite an All-Star selection, a 2.81 ERA, and 119 strikeouts, Teheran hasn’t won in his last six starts and has been struggling with injuries since July. He simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to win games, and his 3-9 record displays that reality. In his lone start this season against the Nationals on April 14, he gave up six runs on six hits in a 6-2 Washington victory. Those six runs were the most he’s given up in any single start in 2016, leaving him with a 5.54 ERA versus the Nats.
The Nationals will send out Tanner Roark, whose solid pitching has been one of the many success stories coming out of Washington this season. Roark is one of the most consistent guys in the majors, and his numbers prove it. His 2.81 ERA, 13-6 record, and 127 strikeouts are nearly unmatched around the MLB. He’s won four straight starts and six of his last eight, with two of those victories coming on the road. In fact, his last start was against the Braves, in which he allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings while striking out three and walking only two. In his April 13 start at home against Atlanta, a similar game was thrown for Washington when Roark tossed a seven-inning shutout while only allowing four hits in a 3-0 Nationals victory.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Though Teheran’s stuff has been almost untouchable this season, he’s coming off an injury and was hit hard last time he faced Washington. Roark loves to pitch against Atlanta and shouldn’t fare any worse on the road than he did at home. Nationals win this one 4-1.