Both the Braves and the Nationals have decided to prioritize the platoon advantage in their lineups Thursday Night. The Braves are starting Brian McCann, Matt Joyce, and Rafael Ortega, while the Nationals are going with Howie Kendrick and Michael Taylor. The platoon impact could certainly play a part in a game that features two very good pitchers.
However, the key to this game, and the series, will likely be top of the order production. That does not necessarily refer to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto of the Nationals or Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson of the Braves. Each of those players has been producing at extraordinary levels to keep their teams winning. Instead, the key will focus on Trea Turner and Victor Robles for Washington along with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies for Atlanta.
Over the past two weeks, Trea Turner has produced a .298/.357/.480 triple slash, while Victor Robles has registered a .251/.324/.426 line. Ronald Acuna Jr. has produced a .128/.236/.213 line, while Ozzie Albies has produced a .234/.357/.383 line. Clearly, one advantage the Nationals have coming into this series is being able to set the table very effectively for Rendon and Soto. For Atlanta to succeed, both Acuna Jr. and Albies must regain their production. The past few games showed encouraging signs of each player doing just that.
If Atlanta can find success early, that means the game will go to the bullpens. That should shift the game in the Braves favor if the score is close.