With attempts at home cooking not going as planned, the Braves will embark on a seven-game road trip through Washington D.C. and Miami in an attempt to finally push their winning percentage above .000. Bud Norris will take the ball for the second time for Atlanta, while the Nationals will counter with Max Scherzer. Those pitchers faced their respective opponents once already in the season-opening series, but did not duel each other (Scherzer faced Julio Teheran, Norris battled Stephen Strasburg).
After departing Atlanta, the Nationals went 1-1 in a home series against the Marlins, losing their home opener 6-4 and then bouncing back three days later (yesterday) to win 4-2. (They ended up with a two-day gap due to a postponement for "cold weather.")
As you may recall (assuming you haven't rendered yourself comatose following the imbibing of Braves "baseball" over the past week), Bud Norris pitched very well in his debut, keeping the Nationals off the board for six innings before a defensive meltdown pushed across three runs against him in the seventh. The big blow was a pinch-hit, two-run double by Matt den Dekker, but Norris probably deserved better.
Scherzer, meanwhile, pulled in a no-decision on Opening Day by keeping the Braves to three hits in seven innings while punching out seven. Unfortunately for him, two of those hits were solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia. The Braves also dropped that game due to late defensive miscues, as has become somewhat of a pattern for the team to start the 2016 season. Scherzer will be making this start on an extra day of rest after a postponement in the Marlins-Nationals series this weekend.
With the injury and subsequent DLing of Ender Inciarte, Mallex Smith will likely make his debut in a regular season uniform for the Braves today, though it remains to be seen whether it'll be as a starter (and leadoff hitter?) or whether he will ride the bench for part or all of the game. Update: he's starting and batting leadoff. There's a reason to watch if you've ever needed one.
This is the first of a four-game set with the Nationals - the first three games will be played at 7:05, and Thursday's game is a 4:05 start. After that, the Braves will head to Miami for a weekend series before returning home for a three-series homestand next week. Maybe they'll have a win or two by then, but they have a tough path to climb with Scherzer on the bump tonight.