The Washington Nationals hit the road and travel to Atlanta where they open a three-game set on Tuesday night.
Washington is 57-80 on the year and they are tied for the bottom place in the NL East. The Nationals are 15.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the divisional standings and 16 games off the wild card pace. However, they have won two out of their last three games after a seven-game losing streak.
The Braves meanwhile are 72-64 on the season and they have the best record in the NL East. Atlanta is currently just 1.5 games ahead of the Phillies and 4 games in front of the Mets after going 2-5 in their last seven games.
The Nationals are 42-41 on the road this season while the Braves are 33-32 at home. They have played each other already 16 times this season and Atlanta has won 12 of those games, including six out of the last seven and the last four overall.
The Nationals rank 7th in batting average at .254 but they are only scoring an average of 4.44 runs per game. Washington also ranks 3rd in on-base percentage at .333 and their slugging percentage of .417 is 11th best overall.
Juan Soto has been the main offensive weapon for the Nationals. Soto is batting .298 for the season and he has 24 home runs and 80 RBIs for Washington.
Washington’s pitching isn’t as good as its hitting this season. The Nationals’ ERA of 4.74 is 26th in the league while their WHIP of 1.34 is 19th overall. Opposing teams are hitting .252 against them, 21st in the majors.
Paulo Espino will open on top of the mound for Washington. The 34-year old has moved back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen and has pitched in 30 games with 14 starts. Espino has an ERA of 4.08. In his last outing, Espino allowed two earned runs in 5 ⅓ innings of work against the Phillies while not factoring in the decision.
The Braves are scoring an average of 4.88 runs per game and their batting average of .242 is ranked 14th in the majors. Atlanta is also 12th in on-base percentage at .320 and they are fourth in slugging percentage at .432.
Austin Riley leads the team with 29 home runs and a batting average of .305 while Ozzie Albeis paces the team with 89 RBI on the season.
Atlanta is also in the Top 15 in the major pitching departments. The Braves’ ERA of 3.99 and WHIP of 1.27 are ranked 13th in the majors. Atlanta’s opponents are also hitting just .239 against them which is 14th best overall.
The Braves will turn to Max Fried to start this game. Fried has a record of 11-7 with an ERA of 3.51 and a WHIP of 1.18 in a total of 23 starts. In his last start, Fried allowed two solo home runs in six innings with nine strikeouts and one walk in a no-decision against the Dodgers. He has won four straight decisions and has not lost since July 28th.
The Nationals are 17-42 in their last 59 games played. The Nationals are 15-36 in their last 51 games as betting underdogs, 17-42 in their last 59 games played on grass, 3-9 in their last dozen games against a left-handed starter, 5-23 in their last 28 games against the National League East, 1-6 in their last seven games against an opponent with a winning record.
The Braves are just 2-5 in their last seven games overall. However, Atlanta is 5-0 in their last five games after an off day, 14-3 in their last 17 games against an opponent with a losing record, 8-2 in their last 10 Game 1 of a series, 21-6 in their last 27 games as betting favorites, and 19-7 in their last 26 games against the National League East.
Washington is in a funk right now with only two wins in their last 10 games overall and two wins in their last eight road assignments. During that stretch, their pitching staff has struggled to give them a winning chance. Espino isn’t going to help much as he gave up five runs in his only start against the Braves this season.
Atlanta has also struggled with their pitching as of late but if they have a bright spot on the mound, it’s Fried who has conceded just a total of nine runs in his last six starts. He also gave up just a total of three runs in his last three starts against the Nationals.
I see these two pitchers going opposite ways here. Fried is going to have another strong outing while Espino is going to have a rough one. When all is said and done, the Braves should win this home contest.
Prediction: Atlanta Braves
The total has gone over in six out of the last nine games played by the Nationals. The over is also 6-3 in their last nine games against the National League, 7-2-1 in their last 10 games after a win, 4-1 in their last five Tuesday games, 23-9-2 in their last 34 games played on grass, and 23-8-1 in their last 32 games against an opponent with a winning record.
The total has gone under in 12 out of Atlanta’s 17 games played. The under is 6-1 in the Braves’ last seven games against an opponent with a losing record, 7-0 in their last seven games after a win, 4-0-1 in their last five Tuesday games, 6-1-1 in their last eight games against a right-handed starter, 4-1 in their last Game 5 of a series.
The projected total of nine runs may be hard to top with the starters for this game throwing ball well as of late. Espino has been a decent pitcher for Washington while Fried has been Atlanta’s best pitcher all-season long.
Fried heads to Tuesday’s opener having allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his previous seven starts. His ERA at home of 3.11 is also better than when he is on the road (3.90). Espino meanwhile, has not conceded more than three runs in 11 out of his last 13 starts.
These teams have played to the over in three out of their last four head to head meetings. But given the pitching match-up here, this one has the makings of a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Under 9
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