clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals + Nats' lineup...

New, comments

The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves start a four-game set in D.C. after they played two in the season opening set in Turner Field last week. Max Scherzer starts in front of the home crowd at 7:05 PM EDT in Nationals Park.

Photo © and courtesy the @Nationals on the Twitter.
Photo © and courtesy the @Nationals on the Twitter.

Boy, has it been rough to be an Atlanta Braves fan so far this season. The rebuilding team has yet to win a single game in 2016, plus, they just lost one of their most offensively productive players in Ender Inciarte.

Now, directly after the St. Louis Cardinals swept a three game series against them, the Braves now come to D.C. to face the Nationals, who spoiled their Opening Day celebrations.

The series will start tonight at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are already 2-0 against the Braves this season, after their Opening Series at Turner Field, thanks to two dominating pitching performances from Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

The two will start on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. (Gio Gonzalez will get the ball on Tuesday).

Scherzer is looking to replicate his performance on Opening Day, which he was very satisfied with.

"I did a lot of things well today," Scherzer told reporters. "I was sharp with the offspeed [pitches]. I was able to execute a lot of things. I got a lot of popups."

"Overall, I was able to keep working ahead in the count and just keep forcing their hand. I was able to get some key outs in some big situations."

The lineup working behind Scherzer also worked well, but Daniel Murphy in particular enjoyed a spectacular Opening Day. The second baseman went 2-3 with a home run and 2 RBI.

"He's a special hitter" said Danny Espinosa, as quoted by James Wagner of the Washington Post.

However, there were some parts of the lineup that had not been working too well, namely Jayson Werth and Michael A. Taylor.

But, on Sunday, Werth checked in with his first hit, a bloop single that gave the Nationals the lead against the Marlins in the bottom of the seventh.

"That kind of breaks the ice," said manager Dusty Baker. "I was trying to get him going by hitting and running and moving runners... you knew it was going to happen sooner or later."

Baker also had hope for the rest of the season for Werth, after he finally broke through.

"Maybe that can get him going, and get him hot," Baker said.

As for Michael A. Taylor, who only has one hit entering tonight's game, Baker is not all that worried.

"It's tough when you start the season hitless, and you can't help but count, but you know that it's a long way to go," said Baker.

"You get two hits a day and a couple walks in there in nine at bats and heck you're hitting probably close to .400 at this time because you don't have any at bats. Your batting average can go up and down like an elevator at this time of the year."

The Braves, who will throw their two, three, and four starters against the Nationals, could be a good launching pad for Werth and Taylor to get back on track. In the last three games combined, Atlanta has struggled mightily on the mound, giving up 31 runs.

Once again, beating Atlanta should not prove to be too much of an issue for the Nationals, with Scherzer and Strasburg going out on Monday and Wednesday, but you can never know with these two teams.

What to watch for at Nationals Park

Gio Gonzalez's first start

The Nationals skipped Gonzalez's first turn in the rotation due to an absurd amount of off-days. Gonzalez, although he was (technically) a temporary part of the bullpen, has not thrown a single pitch since Spring Training. That amount of rest could make for an interesting start, for better or for worse.

Ender Inciarte (or rather, a lack of) may play a big role in this series

The outfielder went on the DL on Sunday with a strained left hamstring, which could prove to be problematic for the Braves. Inciarte himself stopped the Nationals from scoring more than a few runs with incredible plays in the outfield, and played well offensively, with two hits and two walks.

Harper homer watch

Yeah, yeah. I know. This was on here last time. But he really loves hitting home runs against the Braves - he added yet another home run to his total on Opening Day, his fourteenth against the Braves.

Monday, April 11th: Braves vs Nationals - 7:05 PM (MASN2)
Probable Pitchers: Bud Norris (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (0-0, 2.57 ERA)

Tuesday, April 12th: Braves vs Nationals - 7:05 PM (MASN2)
Probable Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Gio Gonzalez

Wednesday, April 13th: Braves vs Nationals - 7:05 PM (MASN2)
Probable Pitchers: Matt Wisler (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

Thursday, April 14th: Braves vs Nationals - 4:05 PM (MASN, WDCH 99.1)
Probable Pitchers: Julio Teheran (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs Tanner Roark (0-1, 6.75 ERA)

Here's the Nationals' lineup for the series opener with the Braves: