Nothing would thrill this guy more than watching the Braves contribute to the demise of the Nats' 2015 playoff hopes. The bad thing is the Braves suck in road games...I mean REALLY suck. The Braves hold the worst road record in the Majors at 21-47; the 1977 Braves hold the Atlanta record with 60 road losses* and with 13 road games left, that's within reach, but we don't want that since we want to make sure the Nats are sitting at home in October, don't we?
What's happened to the Nats since the Braves last saw them? The Nats had a 3.5-game Division lead and were 43-36 on July 2. Since then, they've gone 24-29 and have fallen 6.5 games behind the first-place Mets, and eight games out of the Wild Card. Anthony Rendon has been injured; Denard Span is out for the remainder of the season with hip surgery; Stephen Strasburg has had nagging health issues, and Doug Fister is out of the rotation. They also added Jonathan Papelbon to the back end of the bullpen and called up Trea Turner.
In regards to Strasburg, he's been bothered by a bad back and will not make his scheduled start in this series, which was to be Friday. Tanner Roark instead will start in his place.
The Nats have hit just .241 since the Break, but Bryce Harper has done his part to keep that number up. He's hit .315 post-ASB, but has suffered a power outage with just 15 extra-base hits: 10 doubles and five homers as opposed to his 26 first-half homers. Ryan Zimmerman has hit 11 homers since returning to action July 28 (and seven in his last nine games), and Ian Desmond has hit 10 in 44 games while hitting .281. Outside of these three, the Nats offense is hitting .220 since the Break. You don't need to be genius to know that doesn't win you a lot of games. However, even Harper's been bitten by the injury bug: he had to leave Wednesday's game with glute tightness and is considered day-to-day.
Their pitching hasn't been immune either. Even Max Scherzer, the team's best starter this year, has a 4.85 ERA since the Break and has given up 11 homers in 52 innings. The Braves won't see Scherzer in this series, but they will see Jordan Zimmermann, who has also been bitten by the long ball: 10 home runs in 55.1 innings. The Braves will get their first look at Joe Ross in the series finale.
Shelby Miller will try again to break his long winless streak - currently at 19 starts - on Saturday against Gio Gonzalez. I'll tell you one thing: Shelby's the best darn 5-12 pitcher I've ever seen.
*For the record, the 1935 Boston Braves lost 65 road games out of 115 total.
Thursday, September 3, 7:05 p.m. ET
ATL: Matt Wisler
2015: 13 starts, 5-5 W-L, 5.22 ERA, 5.30 FIP, 3.44 B/9, 5.73 K/9
WAS: Jordan Zimmermann
2015: 27 starts, 11-8 W-L, 3.45 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.56 BB/9, 7.06 K/9
Friday, September 4, 7:05 p.m. ET
ATL: Julio Teheran
2015: 27 starts, 9-7 W-L, 4.62 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 3.17 BB/9, 7.74 K/9
WAS: Tanner Roark
2015: 6 starts, 4-4 W-L, 4.54 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 2.04 BB/9, 5.90 K/9
Saturday, September 5, 7:05 p.m. ET
ATL: Shelby Miller
2015: 27 starts, 5-12 W-L, 2.56 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.03 BB/9, 7.69 K/9
WAS: Gio Gonzalez
2015: 25 starts, 9-7 W-L, 4.13 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 3.37 BB/9, 8.07 K/9
Sunday, September 6, 1:35 p.m. ET
ATL: Manny Banuelos
2015: 5 starts, 1-3 W-L, 3.33 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 4.07 BB/9, 5.92 K/9
WAS: Joe Ross
2015: 12 starts, 5-5 W-L, 3.50 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 2.21 BB/9, 8.83 K/9