Tonight’s game between the Braves and the Nationals will serve as a rubber match between 2019’s NL East Champions and the team that won the big one last year. This should also be the day where Cristian Pache makes his heavily-anticipated debut at the major league level. Either way, there’s plenty of reason to tune in to the game this evening since you’re bound to see something interesting.
The word going around is that Pache will indeed be making the start tonight in left field. I’d imagine that this means that we’ll see an outfield consisting of Pache in left, Ender Inciarte in center, Adam Duvall in right, and Marcell Ozuna serving as the DH. This is far from an ideal outfield look, but the Braves are shorthanded right now with Ronald Acuña Jr. on the IL and Nick Markakis staying out due to COVID-19 concerns. That’s limited the options a bit (especially in right field), so the Braves will have to make do with what they have at the moment.
Either way, it’s still exciting that Critian Pache will be getting a shot to show off what he can do. While his natural position is center field, he’s earned a reputation for bringing excellent defense to the table at any outfield position that he’s at. Unless he just comes out of the gate with a couple of jitters, you can rest easy knowing that Pache is going to take care of things out there and even steal a few outs as well.
The defense will need to do their best to lift up their starting pitcher tonight, as Kyle Wright is getting another start. At a baseline level, the expectations for Wright are pretty low at this point. I think that all that we want right now is for him to at least get into the fifth inning. He’s done it once this season — he may have given up four runs and two dingers in the process of making it through six innings against the Phillies, but Kyle Wright does have what it takes. The common thread between Wright and the other Braves starters who have been struggling this season is a simple one: It’s all about command. If Kyle Wright has another start where his command falls off a cliff, then it’s likely that the Nationals are going to make him pay and he’s going to have another short stint. He’s been taking some major lumps this season, so hopefully tonight is a night where Wright can start turning the corner and making opposing batters struggle at the plate.
Meanwhile, the Nationals are also having some issues with starting pitching. Today was supposed to be Stephen Strasburg’s turn in the rotation, but he’s currently on the IL after suffering an injury in the first inning of his most recent start. As a result, Erick Fedde is set to make his third start of the season, but it’s really more like his fourth start since he was the one who had to step in during the first inning of their game on August 14 against Baltimore. Fedde pitched capably and guided the Nationals through the rest of the first inning and all the way through the sixth inning, Washington cruised to an easy win on that night, so Fedde will be entering tonight’s game with some confidence following that performance.
I’m sure that if you asked any Braves hitter, they’d probably rather see Fedde instead of Strasburg. Still, you’d also have to imagine that they’re going to take each at-bat as seriously as possible as if that was actually Strasburg up there on the mound. As usual, it’s highly likely that the Braves are going to have to score a bunch of runs in order to win since a solid start from their starting pitcher is seen as a luxury right now. We’d all love to see Kyle Wright pull out a gem of a start but if it doesn’t happen, the offense and the bullpen will have to continue picking up the slack like they’ve done more often than not this season.
The impending debut of Cristian Pache is already enough reason to tune in for tonight’s game. Combine that with a big divisional tilt and a volatile pitching matchup and you’ve got a recipe for a game that very likely won’t be boring. I’d imagine that we’re going to continue seeing both teams having big innings and it should come down to which team can properly take advantage of the chances that they will be afforded tonight. Hopefully that ends up being the Braves!
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, August 19, 7:10 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, ESPN
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network