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Preview: Braves look to break .500 with win over Nationals

Atlanta has won five straight going into a three-game series with Washington

MLB: San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves started the season out 1-6, but have since won five straight games to build their way back to .500 on the season. Although it’s early, it is encouraging to see Atlanta register its sixth win in 12 games as opposed to the 24 games it took the team to hit the six-win mark last year.

Following a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres to open up SunTrust Park, the Braves will welcome the rival Washington Nationals into their new stadium on Tuesday night for game one of a three-game series.

As pointed out by Braves Options Guy on Twitter, a win tonight would put the Braves over the .500 mark for the first time since June 1, 2015.

Again, many might dismiss that fact by stating that it’s too early in the season, but regardless, it would be a promising display of progress and a good look for the front office in the midst of a rebuilding era.

Mike Foltynewicz will make his second start of the season on Tuesday night going up against Washington’s Max Scherzer. Foltynewicz is 0-1 on the season with a 6.35 ERA after a rocky start in the snow against the Pirates on April 7 where he gave up a pair of earned runs on six hits and three walks while recording just one strikeout over 3 ⅔ innings pitched. Foltynewicz also made an appearance out of the bullpen against the Miami Marlins on April 11 and struck out four while issuing no walks over two innings. However, he gave up a two-run home run to Marcell Ozuna, further inflating his ERA.

Folty will have his hands full with a loaded lineup as the Nationals are led offensively by Daniel Murphy, who’s batting .396 with two home runs and 10 RBIs, and Bryce Harper, who’s batting .333 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

Atlanta’s offense will face one of its toughest tests yet as Scherzer enters with a 1-1 record and a 2.13 ERA. Through two starts, he’s allowed three earned runs on eight hits and compiled 17 strikeouts while walking just four batters over 12 ⅔ innings.

Freddie Freeman has been following up his 2016 MVP campaign with a scorching hot start to 2017. He enters Tuesday with a .400/.481/.867 slash line and a wRC+ of 254, second in the MLB to only Eric Thames of the Milwaukee Brewers (287).

The Braves were 4-15 against the Nationals in 2016, giving Washington its highest winning percentage (.789) against any team in the National League.

For those interested in a way-too-early look at the National League East Division standings, a win over the Nationals tonight coupled with a Philadelphia Phillies win over the New York Mets and a Seattle Mariners win over the Marlins would put the Braves in a tie with Washington for the division lead at 7-6.

Game Info:

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 7:35 pm ET

Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA

TV: Fox Sports South

Radio: Braves Radio Network, 680 AM/93.7 FM

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