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Jared Shuster set to make MLB debut as Braves attempt to sweep Nationals

Spring training is over, and the bright lights of the big leagues are beckoning Jared Shuster.

Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Now that the Atlanta Braves have already recorded their first series victory of the season, it feels like there’s no better time than the present for the Braves to also pick up their first sweep of the season as they take on the Washington Nationals in the series finale.

This should be an intriguing game from a pitching standpoint since we’ll be seeing Jared Shuster take the mound for his first career start in the big leagues. After turning heads during spring training, Shuster has definitely earned this opportunity and Atlanta’s 2020 first-round pick probably couldn’t have picked a better team to open up his major league career against.

With all due respect to the Nationals, they do not exactly have the most imposing group of hitters out there. While you could argue that a lot of Washington’s struggles at the plate so far have been due to Atlanta sending out some of their top arms during this series, there still isn’t a ton of firepower in any given lineup that the Nationals are going to put out there.

With that being said, it still wouldn’t be much of a shock to see Jared Shuster struggle in his first major league start. While this isn’t a great Nationals lineup, it’s still a major league lineup and the jump from minor league action to major league competition (or in this case, the difference in intensity between spring training and regular season action) is still tangible and it’s always possible that Shuster could hit a roadblock while trying to adjust to the new normal of his career. Still, it would be great to see Shuster find a way to ride the wave that he was on during spring training to a successful start to his major league pitching career.

Meanwhile, MacKenzie Gore will be taking on the Braves for the first time in nearly a full calendar year. Gore is surely hoping that his first start since July of last season will result in a positive omen for the rest of the season. ZiPS isn’t exactly optimistic about a huge turnaround for the third-overall pick of the 2017 Draft, as they’re currently projecting a 4.17 ERA and a 3.99 FIP for Gore for this upcoming season. While that’s a projection that Jared Shuster would be happy to have, that’s probably also a projection that the Braves lineup is probably happy to see — the Braves as a team hit better against lefties last season (118 team wRC+ in 2022 vs left-handed pitchers) than they did against righties (108 wRC+), so they’ll likely be chomping at the bit to pick up where they left off against Josiah Gray and the rest of Washington’s pitching staff.

On the other hand, MacKenzie Gore will surely be leaning on the fact that he actually did have a solid start against the Braves last season — albeit as a member of the San Diego Padres. Gore made it into the sixth inning back on April 15, 2022 with just two earned runs allowed over three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The Nationals would very likely be pleased with Gore getting into the sixth inning this afternoon, as that would also likely mean that they’d still be competitive in this game instead of once again having to play from behind against the Braves.

Considering how tough things are going to get for the Braves heading into this upcoming week, it would be really lovely if the Braves went ahead and picked up the sweep to kick off this season. Atlanta is currently 2-0 for the first time since 2015, which is when that particular team (which eventually finished 67-95) somehow managed to start 5-0. Before the Braves can get to 5-0 and maybe beyond that, they’ll have to make it to 3-0, first. If their bats are still hot then they’ve got a very good chance of breaking out the brooms by the time this game is over.

I highly doubt that we’re going to see a serious pitchers’ duel today but hey, baseball is a weird sport and we’ve all seen stranger things than two high draft picks suddenly realizing their potential for all of the baseball world to witness. In all seriousness, here’s hoping we see the brooms come out today.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, April 2, 1:35 p.m. ET

Location: Nationals Park, Washington DC

TV: Bally Sports South

Streaming: MLB TV

Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan

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