The Braves will have to beat Stephen Strasburg if they want to inch closer to winning the Wild Card.
The Braves have staggered toward the finish line in the NL Wild Card race, and it's not going to get much easier against the Nationals.
Atlanta will try to improve on its two-game lead in the Wild Card against a Nationals team that has won 11 of its last 14 games, including a four-game sweep of the Phillies. Stephen Strasburg returned to the starting rotation earlier this month from Tommy John surgery and will try to put a kink in the Braves' playoff hopes with six games remaining in the regular season. The Braves received some much-needed assistance from the Mets Thursday, stunning the Cardinals with a six-run ninth to win 8-6, reducing Atlanta's magic number to clinch the Wild Card down to 5.
Pitching matchups after the jump.
Friday, September 23, 7:05 p.m. EDT
#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 14, 1975
|2011 - Tim Hudson||15-10||31||31||1||1||0||0||203.0||174||81||72||14||55||150||3.19||1.13|
#37 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals
Jul 20, 1988
|2011 - Stephen Strasburg||0-0||3||3||0||0||0||0||14.0||9||2||2||0||0||11||1.29||0.64|
Saturday, September 24, 1:05 p.m. EDT
#37 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Sep 03, 1986
|2011 - Brandon Beachy||7-2||24||24||0||0||0||0||135.2||120||58||54||16||42||160||3.58||1.19|
#40 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals
Mar 31, 1980
|2011 - Chien-Ming Wang||3-3||10||10||0||0||0||0||56.1||63||34||27||7||13||21||4.31||1.35|
Sunday, September 25, 1:35 p.m. EDT
#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Dec 26, 1987
|2011 - Mike Minor||5-2||14||14||0||0||0||0||78.0||87||38||37||6||28||72||4.27||1.47|
#48 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals
Mar 06, 1986
|2011 - Ross Detwiler||3-5||14||9||0||0||0||0||60.0||59||26||22||7||18||37||3.30||1.28|
R - Drew Storen (closer)
R - Collin Balester
L - Sean Burnett
R - Tyler Clippard
R - Todd Coffey
L - Tom Gorzelanny
R - Ryan Mattheus
R - Henry Rodriguez
L - Atahualpa Severino
L - Doug Slaten
R - Craig Stammen
Hudson and Strasburg faced off June 28 last year with Hudson earning the win. Alex Gonzalez is expected to return to the lineup following a strained calf earlier in the week. A sweep, while not likely considering the Nats' peskiness, would definitely help the Braves' cause now that neither Livan nor Lannan will be in the way.