|Nationals, Braves ready for four-game set|
If the Washington Nationals hope to run down the Braves in the National League East, this weekend's four-game series at Atlanta's SunTrust Park might be a good time to get started.
The series between the division-leading Braves and the second-place Nationals is only the third time the clubs have met this year. The Braves won two of three when the clubs met most recently, June 21-23, in Washington. The Nationals lead the season series 3-2. The teams still have four series remaining, and they meet seven times in the final month.
The Braves are not making it easy for Washington to make up ground. Atlanta opened the second half by going 4-2 on the road, but the Braves dropped the final two in a three-game series at Milwaukee.
"We're a really good ballclub," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "You'll go through stretches like this and we're playing good competition. We've got to regroup and win a series starting (Thursday). It's going to be a big series, but until you clinch the division, every series is a big series."
The Nationals are getting a break from the schedule. They will not face Atlanta's Dallas Keuchel nor 10-game winner Max Fried, who went on the injured list Tuesday due to a blister on his left index finger.
The Braves, likewise, may not face Washington ace Max Scherzer. Out due to a mild back sprain, the right-hander is eligible to come off the injured list on Saturday, although manager Dave Martinez wouldn't commit to sticking Scherzer back in the rotation until seeing him throw a bullpen session.
"He's tough," Martinez said. "He wants to compete every day, and right now, he's competing with himself. He wants to pitch. He was upset he didn't pitch the other day. I told him, 'We need you for the long haul. If it's one start here or one start there, we gotta get you right.'"
The first game of the series will feature Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.71 ERA) against Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 3.46).
Teheran pitched well in his first post-All-Star-break start. He gave up three runs, two earned, in six innings against the San Diego Padres on Saturday. He received no decision for the third straight start. In two July starts, Teheran has a 1.50 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Teheran will be making his 22nd career start against Washington. He is 6-6 with a 4.13 ERA against the Nationals but has not faced them this season. Teheran was 0-2 against Washington in 2018. He has allowed more home runs to the Nationals (19) than any other club in his career.
Strasburg beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday in his first start after the All-Star break. He worked around seven hits, threw six scoreless innings and struck out six. He has made two starts in July and has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 innings.
Strasburg will be making his 33rd career start against the Braves -- he's only started more often against Miami (34). He's 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA against Atlanta, posting 215 strikeouts in 174 1/3 innings.
Strasburg is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season, allowing five runs in 13 innings with 16 strikeouts.
--Field Level Media