After scoring another series win and locking up home field advantage throughout the postseason, the Atlanta Braves will put a bow on the 2023 season with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. Atlanta is 7-3 against the Nationals this season and took three of four in Washington last weekend. The series is meaningless from a big picture standpoint, but a couple of milestones are still up for grabs. Ronald Acuña Jr. became the first player ever with 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in the same season. He needs two stolen bases to tie Otis Nixon’s modern day record set back in 1991.
The Nationals dropped two games to the Baltimore Orioles to start the week. They come into the final series with a 69-90 record, good for last place in the NL East. They have seen some of their young players take steps forward and have assembled a good minor league system, but more help will be needed for the major league roster if they hope to move up the standings in 2024. They will likely finish 2023 with bottom-five marks in both position player and pitching production, barring a bit offensive outburst over the weekend.
Friday, September 29, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Trevor Williams (29 GS, 141.0 IP, 16.7 K%, 8.0 BB%, 38.1 GB%, 5.55 ERA, 6.04 FIP)
Right-hander Trevor Williams will get the start for the Nationals in the opener. He has made 29 starts and has a 5.55 ERA and a 6.04 FIP in 141 innings. Williams comes into the series struggling, having allowed 17 earned runs over his last 10 1/3 innings across three starts, which bought him some time off from the rotation. He allowed three runs over two innings in his last start against the Brewers, more than two weeks ago. Williams made one start this season against the Braves back in June and pitched well, allowing two runs over five innings with six strikeouts.
Allan Winans (5 GS, 27.0 IP, 27.4 K%, 5.1 BB%, 42.9 GB%, 4.33 ERA, 2.74 FIP)
Allan Winans will stick in the rotation and start the series opener on Friday. Winans has made five starts this season and has a 4.33 ERA and a 2.74 FIP in 27 innings. However, his numbers are skewed by a one start where he allowed seven runs, including two homers, in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets in August. He has allowed just six runs combined in his other four starts, all of which have been quite good. He started over the past weekend in Washington and allowed seven hits and two runs over five innings with a 6/2 K/BB ratio. Winans is a change-up first junkballer with superb movement on his pitches. His fastballs are too slow (and his four-seamer sinks too much) to be effective, but there’s enough there with his changeup and slider to pose a challenge to a lineup.
Saturday, September 30, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Joan Adon (11 G, 9 GS, 47.2 IP, 19.5 K%, 10.0 BB%, 36.0 GB%, 6.42 ERA, 5.21 FIP)
Joan Adon will make his second straight start against the Braves in Saturday’s game. Adon allowed five hits, four walks and four runs over 4 2/3 innings in Washington this past Sunday. He’s struggled over the final month, allowing 13 runs over his last 13 2/3 innings with just a 20/15 K/BB ratio. He’s also allowed a homer in three straight starts.
Spencer Strider (31 GS, 181.2 IP, 37.1 K%, 7.5 BB%, 34.3 GB%, 3.81 ERA, 2.87 FIP)
Spencer Strider will make his final start of the regular season on Saturday and is looking to lock down a couple of milestones. Strider needs just three strikeouts to pass John Smoltz for the single-season franchise record. Strider will also enter Saturday’s game with a chance to record the first 20-win season of his career. He allowed seven hits, four runs and struck out four over 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals last weekend.
Sunday, October 1, 3:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Jackson Rutledge (3 GS, 12.5 K%, 6.3 BB%, 28.8 GB%, 6.00 ERA, 5.59 FIP)
Rookie right-hander Jackson Rutledge will wrap things up for the Nationals on Sunday. Rutledge faced the Braves in Sunday’s doubleheader in Washington and was decent, allowing three hits and one run over five innings with a 4/2 K/BB ratio. After allowing seven runs in his major league debut, Rutledge has allowed just three runs combined over his next 11 1/3 innings. He allowed three homers over his first two starts before escaping without allowing a longball to the Braves.
The Braves haven’t announced their starter for Sunday’, but it is likely that it will be some sort of bullpen game. Bryce Elder could have started this game, and he may still get a tune-up here, but it’s not clear that the Braves are leaning this way.