If the Braves are going to play in October, then they'll need as much help as they can get considering the state of their offense. Playing the Nationals they hope will be the cure for Atlanta's [crappy] hitting, as the Braves have won nine of the 13 games between the two this year. At the very least, they could have a psychological edge but not much else. The pitching has held up its end for the most part, but the bats have been asleep for far too long and they'll be facing two pitchers in Fister and Zimmermann who have silenced the Braves before.
The Braves have to be fortunate the Nats haven't run away from them in the division. Washington's lead is only seven games because they can't seem to beat the Phillies, so a good showing in hostile territory should go a long way in restoring playoff hopes; that is, of course, if the bats decide to wake up. Sunday's showing was indescribable, and beyond abysmal when they failed to take advantage of a golden scoring opportunity against a bad pitcher and wound up getting shut out (again).
This team HAS to take advantage of the opportunities given to them. Doug Fister has lost his last three starts, and given up at least four runs in each one. We know how much the Braves have owned Strasburg, but the Nats have won each of Jordan Zimmermann's last seven starts, and he hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of them.
For the time being, Rafael Soriano has been removed from the closer's role after blowing back-to-back save opportunities and for being flat-out horrible since the Break. Washington will use closer by committee, utilizing Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Matt Thornton in save chances. Atlanta's pitching will try to cool the bats of Denard Span and Bryce Harper, both of whom are hitting very well of late: Span has 14 hits and nine runs scored in his last 10 games while Harper has 13 hits, 10 of which have come during a six-game hitting streak; he has, however, struck out 13 times with just three walks. Ian Desmond has also racked up a bunch of strikeouts lately with 17 of them in his last 10; Wilson Ramos has just one hit in his last 22 at-bats.
When I look at this offense, I think of a line from the movie "Network": I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!
Watching the Braves fail to produce runs time and time again has become a very painful experience, so if they could PLEASE give us a reason to keep watching (other than to see just how laughably bad the offense can get), that would be awesome!
Monday, September 8, 7:05 p.m. ET
Mike Minor (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 22 IP, 12 hits, 5 ER, 6 BB, 15 K
2014 vs. Nationals: 7 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
Doug Fister (WAS)
Last 3 starts: 16.2 IP, 27 hits, 11 ER, 5 HR, 8 K
2014 vs. Braves: 8 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Tuesday, September 9, 7:05 p.m. ET
Ervin Santana (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 19 IP, 16 hits, 6 ER, 6 BB, 18 K
2014 vs. Nationals: 12 IP, 10 hits, 7 ER, 3 BB, 13 K
Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)
Last 3 starts: 20.1 IP, 18 hits, 6 ER, 3 BB, 24 K
2014 vs. Braves: 12 IP, 11 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 15 K
Wednesday, September 10, 4:05 p.m. ET
Aaron Harang (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 14.2 IP, 25 hits, 13 ER, 6 BB, 13 K
2014 vs. Nationals: 13 IP, 12 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
Last 3 starts: 17.2 IP, 18 hits, 7 ER, 2 BB, 17 K
2014 vs. Braves: 15.1 IP, 24 hits, 14 ER, 5 HR, 5 BB, 23 K