Fresh off of a series win against one NL East opponent, the Braves hit the road to take on another. Michael Bourn will have to wait a while to get settled in Atlanta, as the three-game set against the Nationals will start a nine-game road trip for the Braves.
The Nationals aren't exactly playing great baseball right now, but regardless of record, the Braves sure can't sleep on Washington. Since 2008, the Braves are 29-34 against the Nats, though they are 5-4 in this season's series. Washington just ended a six game losing streak on Sunday, but the Braves will hopefully start at least another three-game streak for the last-place Nationals, who now sit at 51-56.
The Nationals were active prior to the trade deadline, building for the future by adding prospects. They traded ex-Brave Jason Marquis to the Diamondbacks who are looking to stay in the NL West race, getting middle-infield prospect Zach Walters in return. They also sent Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Brew Crew for outfielder Erik Komatsu. I can't pretend to know a thing about these prospects, but the Expos of old clearly have plans to be competitive in the NL East with homegrown talent in the coming years.
For the time being, the Braves task at hand did in fact become easier with the trades the Nationals made. Jason Marquis was pitching reasonably well this season and neither prospect will be on Washington's Major League roster anytime soon. Drew Storen has done nicely in the closer role for the Nationals, so hopefully the Braves don't necessitate any appearances from him. The Washington bats, meanwhile, aren't great this year. Their .236 average is good for fifteenth in the NL this season.
Monday 7:05 PM: The Braves send JJ to the mound Monday night to face off against Livan Hernandez, who may or may not be a drug-money-launderer. Hernandez has been around forever, having a mediocre (at best) sixteenth season. His ERA is currently at a bloated 4.19 figure and has lost ten games. Jair had a Jurrjens-like outing in his last start against Pittsburgh, going seven strong innings and allowing just one run. Hopefully he can keep the momentum.
Tuesday 7:05 PM: Derek Lowe will take on John Lannan in game two. This will likely be the best odds for the Nationals in the series. Lannan is the only lefty that the Braves will face during the series and will likely give the Nats their best chance for a win over the series. He has a 7-7 record and a 3.63 ERA on the season.
Wednesday 1:05 PM: In the finale, we will get to see Chien-Ming Wang for the first time in a long time. Wang didn't have a great outing in his first start since '09. He gave up six runs in four innings on his way to a loss on Friday. Brandon Beachy will head to the mound for the Braves, who also had a great bounce back performance last time out, going seven and a third shut out innings.