For the Nationals, it was a focus under Dusty Baker to win the first game of each series which in turn set the team up to win the series. On the road last year, the Nationals had the best mark in the Majors with a 50-and-31 won/loss record. That equates to a .617 winning percentage which was better than the Nationals achieved on their home turf. This is the opposite of home field advantage although winning 47 games on your home turf is good. The Nationals last year were 3rd in the Majors on home field OPS at .832, and not surprisingly, the Rockies and Diamondbacks placed 1st and 2nd in home OPS. The more significant difference was found in the pitching splits. The Nationals pitched better on the road, and at home they were ranked 12th at a 3.93 ERA compared to being 6th best on the road at a 3.82 ERA.
Today the focus will be on the Nationals’ A.J. Cole who makes his 2018 debut on the road in Atlanta against the same team Cole made his MLB debut on April 28, 2015. That game turned into the greatest comeback in Nationals history. Cole would like to forget about that day, and Nats fans will fondly remember when Dan Uggla went 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs. The Braves starting pitcher that day: Julio Teheran who got tagged for 7 runs.
In tonight’s game, the same two pitchers match-up, and the Nationals are very aware of Teheran. There is a long history with Teheran, and especially between him and Bryce Harper. Back in 2013, Harper hit one-of-his-seven home runs off of Teheran, and the pitcher plunked Harper with a fastball in the next at-bat.
When Harper plays in Atlanta, they seem to ride him hard as you heard last night. There was also the time they said Harper disrespected the “A”.
As you know, last night Bryce Harper blasted a 420 foot 3-run home run to the deepest part of Suntrust Park to lead the Nationals to victory. Harper was booed and jeered all night. The screams of “overrated” were yelled from all over the stadium. Harper seems to feed off of the crowd negativity.
“I enjoy getting booed when I go to places,” Bryce Harper said before. “It makes me thrive. It makes me do well, and that’s something I enjoy.”
Here are the Nationals career splits against Teheran. Will Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez go with a match-up line-up?
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Stadium: Suntrust Park, Georgia
1st Pitch: 7:35 pm EDT
TV: MASN2; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
- Adam Eaton LF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Bryce Harper RF
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Howie Kendrick 2B
- Trea Turner SS
- Brian Goodwin CF
- Miguel Montero C
- A.J. Cole RHP