Life is good right now for these Braves. They’ve been consistently been winning all year, and seem poised to end their seemingly endless playoff drought. They are right behind the Phillies for first place in the NL East, and are looking to continue to make moves.
The Nationals on the other hand have continued to struggle. They are below .500 after 97 games, and their playoff chances are looking a little shaky. When will they discover the old regular season magic? The Nationals are -145 over the Braves for this NL East battle on Saturday.
They’ve impressed many folks this year, and have been led by a trio of offensive players. 34-year-old first-time all-star Nick Markakis, Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman. They’ve each driven in 56+ runs, have 115+ hits, and are hitting .283 or better. They’ve been the primary source of offense and big hits. Albies has been a very pleasant surprise for this team, as most of the other guys in the lineup have been extremely inconsistent. Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte have surprisingly struggled this year.
2nd-year starter Sean Newcomb will be taking the mound for his 20th start of the season. He has allowed 3+ runs in each of past three outings, as his ERA has gone from 2.71, up to 3.51. Newcomb has gone 8-5, striking out 97 and walking 52 in 105 innings of work. He has been the team’s best pitcher through the season.
Still under .500 as we’re after the All-Star Break, this team has many questions to answer. When will they start providing run support for their starters? When will they be fully healthy? When will Bryce Harper finally start hitting like we’re used to seeing? This could very well be Harper’s final season in DC, and the team is sinking right along with him. The starting pitching of their exceptional staff has not been enough this year, as without run support, they have no true chance. The time to turn it around has to happen over the next two games of this series. Stand up DC.
Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for his 20th start of the season. He has gone 6-6, posting a 3.72 ERA in 101 2/3 innings of work. He has struck out 94 batters while walking 48. He allowed two runs on six hits over six innings against the Pirates in his last start before the All Star Break.
Nationals get to Newcomb, get back to .500
A good night for the Nats, as they will pick up their 49th victory of the season in this game. With Ryan Zimmerman back, he’s going to start discovering some of the magic he found last year, posting career-highs in his age 33 season.
Bryce Harper will go deep twice in this game, flashing himself back to Monday’s incredible derby performance. Six solid innings from Gio Gonzalez will also help tremendously for them as they pick up the W tonight.
Take the Nationals -145 over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
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