The Braves first six games this season have...well, they have not gone well. Despite having multiple leads and chances to get on the preferable side of the win-loss column, the Braves sit in last place in the NL East at 0-6 marking the worst start of a season since 1988 (that season did not end well). The Braves hope that new starter Jhoulys Chacin can carry over his momentum from Spring Training and his lone start at AAA (7.2 scoreless innings) and get the Braves back on track.
While he has not pitched in Nationals Park in three years, Chacin has had some success there and if he has truly put his injuries behind him it would be a big boon to this struggling Braves team.
He will be facing Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals, who is also making his first start for the Nationals this season. Gio had historically struggled against the Braves, but last season gave up a total of 2 earned runs in 13 innings against the Bravos. Combine that with the fact that this is essentially an entire new lineup and they have struggled to score runs at times and this could be a tough game to get win #1.
On the offensive side, Mallex Smith will be in the lineup after having to get 5 stitches above his right eye after a batting helmet-on-face incident during his major league debut last night. Mallex claims he is good to go, but the Braves had hinted at not playing him against a tough lefty even before the injury. Smith's chances at starting were buoyed by the fact that the other option in centerfield, Drew Stubbs, is 0-11 against Gio in his career.
Freddie Freeman and Jeff Francoeur are the two players who have had the most success against Gonzalez recently. Freddie is batting .310 with a couple homers and 10 RBIs in the past 5 seasons (29 at-bats) while Francoeur has batted .455 with a homer and 3 RBIs in the same time period (22 at-bats).
Date/Time: 4/12/16 at 7:05 pm EST at Nationals Park
TV: Fox SportSouth (or MASN if you root for the enemy)
Radio: WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network, 680AM The Fan/93.7 FM