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Braves continue homestand with weekend set against Nationals

Before the Braves can take a crack at the Mets, they’ll need to tangle with Washington for three games

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

After being denied sweeps in the final game of three straight series, the Braves welcome the Washington Nationals to town for a three-game weekend set. A big series with the division-leading Mets looms at the end of this homestand, but the Braves have to take care of business against Washington first. And, who knows? Maybe they’ll actually secure the sweep this time.

The Nationals come into the weekend in last place in the NL East, with their 30-55 mark standing as the third-worst record in MLB. After a stretch in late June where they won six of eight, the wheels have fallen off again, as the Nationals have gone 1-7 in their last eight games. Mostly recently, they lost a set to the Phillies while being outscored 18-6 over the three games.

The Braves have gone 4-2 against Washington this season, including a sweep on the road in June and a series loss at home in April, but they know that this isn’t exactly a quality roster that’s being run out against them. The Nationals rank 27th in position player fWAR, combining a bottom-10 wRC+ with the league’s second-worst defensive unit. They have the league’s worst pitching staff by fWAR, with the worst rotation and a bottom-three bullpen. On the position player side, they have more sub-replacement producers so far (nine) than above-replacement ones (six), which seems really hard to achieve. There’s just not much there beyond Josh Bell and Juan Soto right now, though Keibert Ruiz and Nelson Cruz have big xwOBA underperformances and Luis Garcia’s been solid in limited playing time. The pitching end is similarly grim, with as many sub-replacement producers as above-replacement ones.

DraftKings Odds: Nationals +115, Braves -135

Friday, July 8, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Erick Fedde (16 GS, 79.2 IP, 19.0 K%, 10.8 BB%, 4.29 ERA, 4.35 FIP)

The Nationals will go with right-hander Erick Fedde in the series opener. Fedde has put together a solid if unspectacular season and has pitched well of late, allowing four earned runs over his last three starts combined (16 1/3 innings), albeit with worse-but-still-okay-ish peripherals. Fedde faced the Braves back on June 15 and allowed seven hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings. He has struggled against Atlanta in his career, posting a 9.97 ERA in nine career appearances (8 starts) and has allowed 10 home runs in 37 innings.

Charlie Morton (16 GS, 87.0 IP, 27.3 K%, 8.4 BB%, 4.34 ERA, 3.85 FIP)

Charlie Morton turned in one of his best starts of the season last time out and he will be looking for more of the same in Friday’s series opener. After a slow start, Morton seemed to turn the corner in June and got July off on a good note as he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning while striking out 10 against the Reds. Morton struggled to put away hitters over the first two months of the season, but the strikeouts have been flowing since, as he has piled up 55 over his last six outings combined.

Saturday, July 9, 4:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Patrick Corbin (17 GS, 88.2 IP, 19.0 K%, 7.5 BB%, 5.68 ERA, 4.54 FIP)

Left-hander Patrick Corbin will get the start on Saturday and will be looking to build off of his two best starts of the season. Corbin’s overall numbers are still ugly, but he held the Pirates to just five hits, one run and struck out a season high 12 in eight innings on June 28. He allowed eight hits, but just one run over seven innings in his last start against the Marlins. Corbin faced the Braves back in early April and was lit up, allowing nine hits and six runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Corbin has actually racked up a fine xFIP this season and had a lot of starts with good-to-great K/BB ratios, but he’s been incredibly homer-prone — he’s allowed 13 longballs in 10 starts since the middle of May, and seven in his last five starts.

Kyle Wright (16 GS, 96.0 IP, 25.1 K%, 7.9 BB%, 2.91 ERA, 3.07 FIP)

Kyle Wright has been one of the best stories of the season for the Braves and he will make his 17th start of the season in Saturday’s game against the Nationals. Wright closed out June by allowing three hits and one run in seven innings against the Phillies on June 29. He allowed three hits and one run over four innings in Monday’s series opener against the Cardinals, but didn’t return after a 2.5-hour rain delay. Wright has four career appearances against the Nationals (two starts) where he allowed 10 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. He will be facing them for the first time since the 2020 season.

Sunday, July 10, 1:35 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)

Paolo Espino (25 G, 5 GS, 48.2 IP, 18.6 K%, 5.5 BB%, 3.33 ERA, 4.41 FIP)

Righty Paolo Espino will get the call for the Nationals in the series finale. Espino began the season in the bullpen, but rejoined the rotation on June 12. He will be making his sixth straight start in Sunday’s game. Espino had a 2.03 ERA and a 3.03 FIP in 26 2/3 innings as a reliever. He has a 4.91 ERA and a 6.06 FIP in 22 innings as part of the rotation. He allowed six hits and four runs, including a pair of homers, in 3 2/3 innings in his last start against the Phillies.

Ian Anderson (16 GS, 81.1 IP, 19.2 K%, 10.6 BB%, 5.09 ERA, 4.46 FIP)

Ian Anderson will get the start in Sunday’s series finale and will be looking to build on a good turn his last time out. Anderson quieted some of the concerns Tuesday when he scattered eight hits and one run over five innings. He wasn’t his sharpest, but it was a much better performance than his previous two where he allowed 11 earned runs in just six innings. Anderson faced Washington back on June 13 and allowed six hits, four walks and four runs in four innings.

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