After splitting a four-game series in Philadelphia, the Atlanta Braves will continue their road trip Monday when they begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. Atlanta took two of three from Washington at Truist Park last weekend and are 12-4 against the Nationals this season.
After dropping the first two games in Philadelphia, Atlanta roared back with a 6-3 win Saturday and then outlasted the Phillies 8-7 in 11 innings on Sunday. The Braves are 1.5 games behind the New York Mets for the division lead with a huge three-game series coming up this weekend at Truist Park.
After missing the first three games in Philadelphia, Ronald Acuña Jr. pinch-hit late in Sunday’s game and put the Braves ahead with a run-scoring single in the 11th inning. Acuña had been bothered by a sore back, but entered the game in the eighth and stayed in to play right field.
Brian Snitker said after Sunday’s win that Bryce Elder will start Monday with Jake Odorizzi penciled in for Wednesday. Tuesday’s starter is still up in the air, but the likelihood is that it will be Kyle Muller, who would otherwise be starting on regular rest for Gwinnett on Monday. Max Fried would have originally slotted in for Tuesday’s start, but the Braves will give him some extra rest before their big weekend series at home against the Mets.
Monday, September 26, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Bryce Elder (8 G, 7 GS, 40.0 IP, 20.8 K%, 12.1 BB%, 3.38 ERA, 4.09 FIP)
Bryce Elder was recalled to the major league roster on September 19 and started in place of Spencer Strider two days later, after the latter was scratched due to a sore oblique. Elder held the Nationals in check, allowing four hits, two walks and a run over 5 2/3 innings. It is likely that he will stick in the rotation for the remainder of the season and could be among the options as a long reliever for the postseason, as the Braves don’t have many great candidates for the last bullpen spots.
Cory Abbott (14 G, 7 GS, 39.0 IP, 18.6 K%, 10.5 BB%, 4.85 ERA, 6.09 FIP)
Cory Abbott will make his second straight start against Atlanta in Monday’s series opener. Abbott started the series opener in Atlanta on September 19 and allowed six hits, two walks and four runs in four innings. Abbott has pitched better as a reliever this season, but the Nationals seem intent on getting a look at him as a starter.
Tuesday, September 27, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
The Braves haven’t announced their starter for Tuesday yet, but Kyle Muller would appear to be the likeliest option.
Paolo Espino (40 G, 17 GS, 108.0 IP, 19.0 K%, 4.8 BB%, 4.17 ERA, 4.45 FIP)
Like Abbott, Paolo Espino will make his second straight appearance against the Braves Tuesday. Espino returned to the rotation at Truist Park on September 21 and allowed two runs (one earned) over four innings. The Nationals went on to win that game 3-2 which was the start of a three-game losing streak for the Braves. Espino has made 11 appearances against the Braves in his career.
Wednesday, September 28, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Jake Odorizzi (20 GS, 97.2 IP, 18.9 K%, 7.4 BB%, 4.61 ERA, 4.21 FIP)
Jake Odorizzi would be lined up to start Wednesday’s series finale, but his recent performance at least opens the door to the possibility that they give something else another look. That could have even been Kyle Muller, though maybe Muller starts on Tuesday. Odorizzi allowed 10 hits and eight runs in four innings in his last start in Philadelphia. Since having a start skipped due to some arm fatigue, he has allowed a total of 17 hits and 13 runs in his last 12 1⁄3 innings.
Josiah Gray (27 GS, 142.2 IP, 24.2 K%, 10.2 BB%, 5.17 ERA, 5.87 FIP)
Espino’s start in Atlanta last week came in Josiah Gray’s normal spot in the rotation. The Nationals are trying to limit the among of innings that Gray logs down the stretch and there was a question as to whether or not he would pitch again this season. However, he is listed as the starter for Wednesday’s series finale. Gray pitched on September 23 in Miami and allowed eight hits and four runs over six innings of work. He has pitched well against the Braves in his career, allowing 10 hits and four runs to go along with 21 strikeouts in 16 innings (three starts).