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Braves return home to face Nationals

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Charlie Morton will start Saturday’s game.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After sweeping a three-game series in St. Louis, the Atlanta Braves will return to Truist Park where they will begin a six-game homestand with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. The Braves jumped on Jon Lester in Tuesday’s series opener and cruised to a 6-1 win. They trailed Wednesday and Thursday but were finally able to get over the hump and climb past the .500 mark for the season.

Atlanta will enter Friday’s series opener with a 55-54 record, good for third place in the NL East standings. The Braves are just a game behind the Phillies and 1.5 games back of the Mets and could climb back into first place with a good weekend.

The Nationals will come into the series with a much different look than when they saw them earlier this season. Mired in fourth place in the NL East, Washington elected to sell at the Trade Deadline, jettisoning Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Brad Hand, Kyle Schwarber, Daniel Hudson, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison and Lester. That is some serious turnover and they may have a difficult time staying out of the cellar down the stretch. Perhaps related to that selloff, they’ve lost four straight and are 49-60 for the season. They have lost six of 10 overall and have dropped seven of their ten meetings against the Braves this season.

One player who remains in the lineup is Juan Soto, who has been red hot over his last 30 games, hitting .340/.485/.641 with nine home runs. He has 30 walks and just 20 strikeouts over that stretch.

Friday, August 6, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Erick Fedde (17 GS, 82.2 IP, 21.3 K%, 10.1 BB%, 5.01 ERA, 4.71 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, 119 ERA-)

Erick Fedde will make his 18th start of the season for the Nationals in the series opener. Fedde has largely struggled this season and it only got worse in July, where he posted an 8.02 ERA in five starts. He allowed four hits and three runs, including two homers, over six innings in his last outing against the Cubs. Fedde hasn’t had much luck against the Braves in 2021, allowing 11 hits and 10 earned runs in just 6 2/3 innings across two starts. Fedde actually has a fine xFIP- of 100 for the season, but he’s been hit hard and doesn’t have many weapons to deploy against major league hitters.

Kyle Muller (7 G, 6 GS, 29.2 IP, 27.0 K%, 12.3 BB%, 2.43 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 4.60 xFIP, 58 ERA-)

Kyle Muller will make his fourth start since rejoining Atlanta’s rotation following the All-Star Break. He’s done a good job, allowing 10 hits and seven walks but just two runs in 14 innings across those three outings. Muller held the Brewers to four hits, one run and struck out seven in five innings last time out. This will be his first career start against the Nationals.

Saturday, August 7, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Josiah Gray (3 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 26.8 K%, 12.5 BB%, 4.85 ERA, 7.47 FIP, 5.08 xFIP, 122 ERA-)

Rookie right-hander Josiah Gray will get the call for Washington in Saturday’s game. The Nationals acquired Gray in the big trade that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gray was solid in his Washington debut, allowing four hits and one run over five innings against the Phillies. He relies on a mid-90s fastball along with a curveball and slider combination. His fastball’s been creamed so far, but the breaking stuff and a rarely-used changeup have been essentially unhittable.

Charlie Morton (22 GS, 122.0 IP, 27.8 K%, 8.3 BB%, 3.69 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 88 ERA-)

Charlie Morton picked right up where he left off in July in his last start against the Brewers, allowing three hits and two runs over six good innings. He struck out six and didn’t walk anyone. Morton has 41 strikeouts and 13 walks over his last seven starts combined. He faced the Nationals back at the end of May, allowing six hits and three runs while striking out six in five innings.

Sunday, August 8, 1:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Patrick Corbin (21 GS, 116.0 IP, 17.8 K%, 7.5 BB%, 5.74 ERA, 5.48 FIP, 4.47 xFIP, 137 ERA-)

Left-hander Patrick Corbin will take his turn for Washington Sunday and is still looking to turn things around after a rocky start to the season. Corbin allowed six hits and four runs over seven innings in his last start against the Phillies. He has allowed four runs or more in five of his last six starts. Corbin faced the Braves back on June 3 and allowed six hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was annihilated in April but bounced back in May and June, but has once again fallen off an effectiveness cliff.

Max Fried (18 GS, 97.2 IP, 24.3 K%, 8.0 BB%, 4.05 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, 97 ERA-)

Lefty Max Fried will make his 19th start of the season Sunday and will be looking to build off of a strong performance in his last start. Fried allowed three hits and two runs over six innings last time out against Milwaukee. He has allowed three runs or less in five straight starts and eight of his last nine overall. Fried last faced the Nationals on May 31, where he allowed six hits, three runs and struck out six over five innings.