After only getting a split of four games against the New York Mets, the difficulty meter has taken a step up as the Braves will now have to welcome the Washington Nationals into town for the next four days.
After getting off to a relatively slow start, the Nationals have begun to surge and are now playing at a level that was expected of them. They’re currently in first place by half a game and have won six straight games. The good news is that the Braves won’t have to worry about Max Scherzer during this series, who is currently pitching at an extremely high level right now, even for his standards.
However, they’re going to have to figure out a way to get to Tanner Roark, who will be making the start for the Nats tonight. Roark hasn’t had much of a problem against the Braves over the years and he continued that run back on April 2 in his first start against the Braves. He threw six innings and only gave up four hits and a run in that outing, which eventually turned into an easy victory for the Nats.
Obviously, a repeat performance would be bad news for the Braves and if they’re going to avoid getting bamboozled by Roark again, then we’ll need for guys other than Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte to have some sort of success against Roark. Freeman is currently hitting .308/.364/.410 over 44 plate appearances against Roark, while Ender Inciarte is 10-for-25 with four extra base hits (one of which is a homer) off of Roark.
Aside from Johan Camargo having a pretty solid record against Tanner Roark over an extremely small sample size, the rest of the Braves have bleak numbers against the opposing pitcher. If the trend continues, then runs may be at a premium for the Braves this evening.
Meanwhile, Sean Newcomb will be looking to rebound after the Red Sox knocked him around for a few runs last weekend. He’ll also be trying to rebound against the Nationals as well. Remember that game from April 2 that I mentioned? As good of a day as it was for Tanner Roark, that’s how bad it was for Sean Newcomb as the Nationals scored six runs (five of which were earned) as Newcomb walked four batters in that one.
Newcomb did a good job of recovering from that outing but as usual, the walks will be the big issue. If he can prevent the Nationals from reaching base regularly via free pass, then naturally that’ll result in the Braves possibly starting this series off on the good foot. If not, then this could end up being a dangerous night for the Braves and not the best start to what could end up being a big series here in late-May/early-June.
Even though things are going to get easier for the Braves when it comes to their schedule, it would still be nice to see Atlanta enter June with some more wins under their belt — especially against such quality competition as the Washington Nationals.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, May 31, 7:35 PM ET
Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta Georgia
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM, WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network