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Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves Series Preview: Braves host Nats amid Freddie Freeman injury

The Washington Nationals will take on the Atlanta Braves without their best bat, as Freddie Freeman is out 10 weeks with a broken wrist.

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals (25-15) vs. Braves (16-22) Series Info:

Game 1: Friday, May 19 at 7:35 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, May 20 at 4:10 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, May 21 at 1:35 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.47 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (3-3, 4.22)

Saturday: Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.80) vs. Bartolo Colon (2-4, 6.80)

Sunday: Stephen Strasburg (4-1, 3.42) vs. Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.65)

What to watch for:

Braves lose Freddie Freeman for two months

Despite their 16-22 record, the Atlanta Braves are in second place in the NL East and winners of five of their last seven, but they were dealt a serious blow Wednesday when star first baseman Freddie Freeman fractured his wrist getting hit by a pitch.

Expected to miss 10 weeks, Freeman leads all of baseball with a 1.209 OPS to go with 14 homers, 35 runs scored and 25 RBIs.

Atlanta only scores 4.58 runs per game even with Freeman in the lineup, so losing him from the heart of its order will be a major obstacle in its quest to compete for a playoff spot in the inaugural season of SunTrust Park.

Will the Nats be able to get back on track in their road unis?

After getting off to a blistering 12-3 start on the road this season, the Washington Nationals have dropped five of their last six games away from Nats Park.

The biggest reason for their struggles has been pitching, as opponents are averaging 6.17 runs per game over that span.

Washington will be throwing its three best starters (so far this season) out on the mound in Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, so they’ll be looking to put a stop to their recent skid.

Nats’ search for bullpen help continues

You’re sick of bullpen takes, we’re sick of bullpen takes, but the Nationals’ relief corps is still struggling so the rumors and hot takes won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Washington is reportedly exploring every corner of the closer market, from David Robertson to Alex Colome to Kelvin Herrera to Mark Melancon.

The team has a comfortable eight-game lead in the NL East, but with the bullpen a glaring weakness on an otherwise World Series-caliber roster, the Nationals will undoubtedly make a move before the trade deadline.

Who to watch out for: Matt Kemp

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With Freeman on the shelf, the pressure will be on Matt Kemp to continue swinging a hot bat and carry the Atlanta offense.

Kemp is a career .286 hitter against the Nats including 11 home runs in 269 at-bats.

The Braves were shut out 9-0 by the Blue Jays in their first game without Freeman, so the team will have to figure things out quickly if they’re going to give the Nationals any problems.