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Nationals' Saturday night lineup vs Atlanta + Does head-to-head history matter?

The Atlanta Braves are 8-3 against the Nationals this season and 21-9 against Washington since the start of the 2013 campaign... does it matter? Some people say, "Of course." Others say, "No." What do you say?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As former major leaguer Gabe Kapler put it last night, the Washington Nationals' 3-8 record against the Braves this season and more importantly their 9-21 record against their NL East rivals in the last two seasons and their 19-29 record against Atlanta since the start of 2012, "... is completely useless as an indicator of what may happen going forward."

"The August, 2014 versions of the Nationals and Braves have never met before this month. Rosters are turning over constantly," Kapler wrote after reading a story about Atlanta "owning" Washington.

"I think that if we execute, we do things properly, we have a chance to win every day regardless of who we play." -Matt Williams on recent results against the Braves

"It'€™s a mistake in judgment to use a game from three months ago as a predictor, let alone three years," Kapler added.

Nats' skipper Matt Williams was unwilling to accept the fact that the Braves "had the Nationals' number," or anything like that when reporters asked him about the lopsided nature of the divisional rivalry in the past two seasons when while the two teams played in June.

"I don't buy into that," Williams said of the popular "the Braves are in the Nats' heads narrative."

"I think that if we execute, we do things properly, we have a chance to win every day regardless of who we play."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer David O'Brien, on the other hand, wrote today that in spite of the Braves' recent struggles and their 0-8 road trip, there were reasons to remain positive because, " was the Nationals who had that 4 ½-game lead over the Braves," going into this weekend's series.

"And as much as some Braves skeptics and Nationals loyalists might not believe it could or would or should continue," O'Brien suggested, "the fact remains: The Braves have pretty much owned the Nationals for nearly two calendar years now."

After last night's loss in Turner Field, the Nats' lead over the Braves in the NL East was down to 3.5 games with eight games remaining between the division's top two teams, and as the AJC writer put it, if you don't think the Braves can bridge that gap, "... then I can only assume they haven’t been watching these teams’ games against each other the past two years."

So which side are you? Is the past the past? With the trades, injuries and personal ups and downs of individual players, is there anything to head-to-head history from weeks, months or even years back?

Can the Nationals play with any team, including the Braves, on any night if the execute, as Williams says?

• Here's the Nationals' lineup that will take on the Braves in the second game of three in Turner Field tonight: