This four-game series was going to be a fight, and tonight’s game certainly favors the Braves on paper. They are pitching their rookie ace, Mike Soroka, who boasts a 2.24 ERA. The right-hander from Calgary has proved to be the surprise of the year for the Braves. He had a blow-up game before the All-Star break against Philadelphia, and this is only his third start of the month. The way to beat an ace is for your own pitcher to put up zeros. You never lose if you give up zero runs, but Nats starter Anibal Sanchez is usually only going to give you on a good day 6.0 innings. The Nationals will need to also count on their bullpen, and that is always a gamble as it is with most teams.
This will be the Nats first time facing Soroka for most of the Nats because he was hit by a pitch the only time he faced the team so the key is for the veteran Nats team to frustrate the 21 year old rookie and work the counts and push up his pitch count. The Braves were in a similar situation last year at this time with Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb. Both starters were overworked carrying the staff and Folty was optioned to the Minors and Newcomb banished to the bullpen. The Braves do not want to repeat their mistakes with Soroka so the Nats job is to work him hard.
Coincidentally, Anibal Sanchez finished with the Braves starting staff’s best ERA at 2.83 just ahead of Foltynewicz. The difference is Sanchez was not leaned on and was fourth on the staff in starts and innings pitched. This is a key game for the Nats and Sanchez to lead them. Figure that the bullpen will be without Fernando Rodney after his usage last night, and Tanner Rainey has pitched two nights in a row.
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Stadium: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia
1st Pitch: 7:20 pm EDT
TV: MASN2; FOX Sports Southeast, FS1, MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-ups subject to change without notice: