It seems like all I do are Nationals series.
There isn't much that has changed over the past week or so since the Braves last played Washington. Washington's offense is still bad, and the Braves will still have to compete against a tough starting pitching rotation, though subbing out Jordans - Taylor for Zimmermann - will make the series a little easier for the Braves. The one thing that has changed is the perspective heading into the series. Going into the last series, the Braves were ahead by 11.5 games, but there was a sense that the Nationals could put a serious dent in it if they could sweep. That, of course, didn't happen. The Braves swept the series, and they kept winning. The perspective for the Nationals has gone from making a run at the division to not getting embarrassed.
Anyway, as I was saying, the Nationals' offense still sucks. Ian Desmond will be the most valuable player on the entire field during this series as he currently sits at 4 wins of value, according to FanGraphs. Jayson Werth, however, is having himself a fine season, hitting .331/.403/.532, but he no longer appears to have the same defensive and baserunning value he once did. Bryce Harper is basically the only other player Nationals currently playing as an above-average regular.
The starting rotation for Washington has been pretty good this season. The Braves will face Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in this series alongside Taylor Jordan. We all know about Strasburg and Gonzalez, but the guy doing well lately is Dan Haren. Since being given some time off (or "put on the DL") at the end of June/beginning of July, Haren has been excellent - 7 starts, 43 IP, 10 BB, 42 K, 3 HR. That's good for a 2.85 FIP. When looking at possible free-agent starting pitchers, Haren's near 5.00 ERA (as of now) won't make him much money, but a strong finish to the season could make him an under-the-radar bargain.
Just for giggles, the Braves currently have 6 players around 3 wins of value - Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, and Mike Minor. The Braves don't have any "standout" players to this point, but they have a bunch of above-average ones.
Friday, August 16th, 7:30 PM on FOX Sports South
Saturday, August 17th, 7:10 PM on MLB Network and FOX Sports South
Sunday, August 18th, 1:35 PM on FOX Sports South