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Nationals’ lineup + Dusty Baker on Reynaldo Lopez vs the Braves in D.C.

Dusty Baker liked what he saw from Reynaldo Lopez last time out, so the 22-year-old right-hander is starting for Washington again tonight in Atlanta.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reynaldo Lopez got it right the third time. Lopez struggled in his first two starts in the majors, a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and a no-decision vs the San Francisco Giants, but the Washington Nationals’ 22-year-old right-hander put together a solid start in his third major league outing, giving up just five hits and one earned run in seven innings of work on the mound against the Atlanta Braves last weekend in the nation’s capital.

Dusty Baker talked about what he’d seen from the hard-throwing Nationals’ starter before and after Lopez earned his first major league decision.

He predicted that the third time might be the charm.

“If I was a betting man, last time he was out [of the zone], first time he was in, this should be right in the middle this time. That’s what I’m hoping for...”

Baker got what he’d hoped for as he explained after the game.

“The second outing wasn’t that good of an outing,” Baker said. “His first outing was good but the Dodgers were hitting that fastball, they were jumping on him early.

“He was in the zone and then the last start he wasn’t in the zone and today, he was perfect, like I had talked about earlier, I had hoped that he’d be somewhere in the middle, which he was.”

“It was a great performance and he and [catcher Pedro Severino] have worked before, and so that’s why [Severino] caught him. He was mixing his breaking ball, changeup and he was locating his fastball well, so [Severino] called a great game for him, Mike [Maddux] gave him an outstanding game plan and he executed.

“That was a real fine performance.”

Baker was asked if it was good enough to earn Lopez another start as the Nationals wait for Joe Ross to return to the fifth spot in the rotation?

“Probably,” Baker said, “but I mean you guys always want me to live in the future, I told you about that already, so the answer is probably.”

The answer was “Yes” actually, because Lopez is making his fourth major league start tonight in the series opener with the Atlanta Braves.

Pedro Severino is behind the plate again working with Lopez...

Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for tonight’s matchup in Turner Field: