10 in a row.
The Braves will begin a three-game set with the Washington Nationals, and they are on quite a roll. Having won their last 10 games, the Braves now hold a 12.5 game lead in the NL East, and they are half a game back of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball.
The Nationals, however, come into the series at 54-57 and well below expectations, and the offense is the major culprit. Ranked 2nd to last in the NL and 3rd to last in baseball, the Nationals have had a lot of trouble scoring. Starting at the top, Denard Span hasn't been able to reproduce his .351 career OBP this season as it currently sits at .318, and without adding power, Span doesn't offer much on offense if he's not getting on base. Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche, and Danny Espinosa (when he was on the team) haven't been adding much offense, and Kurt Suzuki, who has easily the most ABs of the catchers, has been miserable at the plate. Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth have done their jobs on offense, but Harper was out for a month and Zimmerman has given a lot of his value back on defense, where his throwing accuracy has become a major problem.
On the mound, the Nationals have done a bit better, ranking 12th overall in ERA. Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez have all had solid seasons, but Strasburg and Gonzalez haven't been quite as effective as they were last season. Ross Detwiler - now injured - and Dan Haren haven't given the Nationals what they were hoping for out of the back of the rotation, however. But it's really been the bullpen - ranked 19th in the MLB in ERA - that has given the Nationals fits. Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard have been pretty solid for the bullpen, but neither have been as effective as they were in past seasons. Drew Storen, Henry Rodriguez, and Zach Duke have been pretty bad, though, and Storen was counted on to be a lock-down set-up man. Waiver claim Fernando Abad, however, has been a very solid addition to the left side of the 'pen with a 2.16 ERA and excellent peripherals.
The Braves obviously have a chance to slam the door shut on this division with a fourth sweep in a row, but even if the Nationals turned the tables on the Braves, they would still be 9.5 games behind the Braves.
Monday, August 5th, 7:05 p.m. on FOX Sports South
Tuesday, August 6th, 7:05 p.m. on FOX Sports South and MLB Network
Wednesday, August 7th, 7:05 p.m. on FOX Sports South