In 2019, the Braves somehow avoided facing Max Scherzer until September. They faced him in back-to-back starts on September 13 and 18 (beating him with three runs in five, then losing with one run in six), and that was that. It’s not quite the same in this shortened season, but a similar conceit nonetheless: the Braves won’t escape 2020 without facing Max Scherzer at least once, or so it appears.
And hey, 2020 is different, but Scherzer still very much seems to be Scherzer. Across nine starts, his pitching line (ERA-/FIP-/xFIP-) is 73/66/77, compared to 65/78/75 in his previous five years as a National. He’s been a bit more walk-prone this year, but not too much, and he’s still crazy-effective. Still he can be beaten — he’s been dominant in two of his last five starts, but pretty pedestrian in the other three.
Moreso than overcoming opposing pitching, the challenge for Atlanta this afternoon might be preventing the opposition from crossing the plate. Kyle Wright will be making his sixth start of the season for the Braves, and, well, not much has gone right for the 24-year-old so far. Wright enters this game with -0.4 fWAR and a visibly painful 175 ERA-, 173 FIP-, and 132 xFIP- in five starts. After a hiatus from the major league team, he came back a few days ago and showed a somewhat different approach where he reined in the walks (just two over four innings) ... but allowed three homers instead. The result was his worst start of the year by FIP, but the best of his career by xFIP, so... who knows? We’ll see what this transforms into, or yields, this time out.
In any case, this is probably goodbye for the Braves and Nats for 2020. The two teams split a two-game series and a four-game series earlier, and the Braves have won two of the first three in this set. The Braves have playoff odds of 99.8 percent, and the Nationals, well... they’re at 1.8 percent, ahead of only the Pirates and the Diamondbacks in the National League. These teams almost certainly won’t be meeting again until the calendar flips until 2021. But hey, at least as a parting gift, the Nationals are giving the Braves their lowest-win-probability matchup of the year — on paper, this is the most lopsided (against the Braves, that is) game of the 2020 season. On the flip side, the Braves actually lost the most-lopsided-in-their-favor matchup of the season previously, when the Max Fried/Erick Fedde turned sinister in a 10-4 loss, so maybe the same thing will happen here. Stay tuned.
Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals
September 13, 2020
12:35 pm EDT
Nationals Park, Washington, DC
TV: Fox Sports South, MLB Network, MLB.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network
XM Radio: XM Streaming 841