After all that the Washington Nationals went through early in the season with players on the COVID IL and injuries, some of which are still dealing, they are now .500 at 12-12.
Admittedly, that’s not that impressive in itself. But given the circumstances and the difficult schedule to start the season, at least it’s a solid foundation for the first month of the season to build on to a slightly simpler May schedule.
Next up for the Nationals is the Atlanta Braves still stumbling a bit out of the gate.
Pitching has been the main problem for the Braves until now. Atlanta, which comes in on Tuesday, has a 5.06 ERA as its pitching staff, the worst in the major leagues.
That should improve as they get Max Fried back from an injury in this series and hope to have Mike Soroka back later in the season, but they also need improvement from the likes of Charlie Morton and Sean Newcomb who both got off to a slow start.
Here’s Nationals Park’s low point ahead of the set of three games …
- Game one: Tuesday, May 4, 7:05 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Game two: Wednesday, May 5, 7:05 p.m. EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Game three: Thursday, May 6, 4:05 p.m. EDT. TV: YouTube, Radio: 106.7 The fan
- Game one: Joe Ross (2-1, 4.64 ERA) vs Huascar Ynoa (2-1, 2.96 ERA)
- Game two: Erick Fedde (2-2, 4.43 ERA) Max Fried vs (0-1, 11.45 ERA)
- Game three: Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Drew Smyly (0-2, 8.05 ERA)
Yadiel Hernndez: When Juan Soto unexpectedly went to the IL a little less than two weeks ago, many wondered how the teams’ attack would survive without his talisman.
Enter Hernndez, who has been trying to make his best Soto impression for the past 13 days.
Since Hernndez was recalled on April 20, he has a .435 / .500 / .565 slash with a homerun, four walks and six strikeouts. It’s hard to ask for much more from the 33-year-old rookie.
Even when Soto returns, Hernndez has made a pretty convincing case with his bat to keep off the bench as a pinch-hitting option and the occasional starter if one of the outfielders in the corner needs a day off. That kind of performance is how you enforce the problem.
Austin Riley: In their opening series of the season, the Nationals Riley stuck to a fairly quiet 2-for-10 show with five strikeouts and no walks. However, the third baseman caught fire for the Braves lately.
In his last 13 games, Riley beats a monster .488 / .588 / .756 with three home runs, a pair of doubles and six RBI’s, six runs and 12 strikeouts.
He’s been the beneficiary of an absurd .654 BABIP in that piece, so he’s going to be coming back to Earth in the near future, but hell is definitely a bat to keep an eye out for in this series.
Starlin Castro: After winning four in a row and 9 out of 14, it’s not too easy to find players who haven’t performed properly or who are warming up. So maybe Castro is a bit unlucky to be here, but he hopes to step up his game in this series.
In his last 11 games, Castro cut only .195 / .227 / .244 with two doubles and four RBI’s.
As a player whose main advantage to the team is the fact that he usually hits for a high average and can clear traffic on base with singles, hitting below the Mendoza line recently isn’t what the Nats and Dave Martinez want to see.
Freddie Freeman: Then go ahead, I’ll pre-empt how Freeman will undoubtedly lead to doing what he normally does against the Nationals and ripping the ball off the ball, but he’s certainly not having a great time at the plate lately.
In his last 11 games, the reigning NL MVP cut .190 / .277 / .357 with two homeruns, 12 strikes and six walks. However, that line is reinforced a bit by a 4-for-5 match against the Chicago Cubs the same match in which he batted against Anthony Rizzo.
He won’t stay cold for long, but it’s worth getting into this series. Please don’t hurt the Nationals too much this week, Freddie …
From the other dugout
Check out some of the best Braves storylines from our friends at Talking Chop …
One more thing to watch
It hasn’t been a great time to be a backstop for the Braves in recent days.
On Sunday, the Braves put both Travis dArnaud and Alex Jackson on the IL, selected defensive pundit Jeff Mathis’ contract, and recalled one of their best prospects, William Contreras.
However, it won’t be a fast period for dArnaud, who was placed directly on the 60-day IL and ruled him out with a torn ligament in his left thumb for at least the next two months, if not longer. dArnaud hopes to undergo surgery one day this week.
Jacksons injury appears to be slightly less significant as he was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained left hamstring, so he could probably return pretty soon. However, it won’t be during this three-game series with the Nationals, leaving the Braves with two new catchers.
For a team that has struggled on the pitching front so far this season, having to replace both signalers for a major run against a divisional rival is far from ideal.
Contreras appears to be the main starter of the team for now as he has spent more time in the organization and is clearly the future teams on the position, unlike Mathis who will come in as experienced experience to give him a breather when that is necessary.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the chemistry between the team’s batteries throughout this series and whether this is something the Nationals can take advantage of with a staff on the ropes.
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