Game #51 Preview: Nats vs. Braves
Game 1 of 2: Saturday, June 2, 4:05 EDT, Nats Park
After an extremely disappointing series in Miami, and a rainout last night, the Nats look to bounce back against the Braves squad that they swept less than a week ago. It will be more of a challenge this time around as the Braves lineup has been reinforced with the return of both Freddie Freeman (3-5, HR on 5/30) and Brian McCann (2-4, HR 4RBI on 5/30). The Nats look to end this skid by sending Stephen Strasburg to face Brandon Beachy whom the Nats defeated last Sunday.
Strasburg has not looked quite himself over his last three outings, compiling a 5.79 ERA along with a .831 OPS Against and only averaging 4.2 innings per start over that period. To give you a baseline, over his first seven starts he had a 1.64 ERA, .511 OPS Against and was averaging just under 6.1 innings per start. The numbers are striking, but ups and downs are not unexpected in his first season back from Tommy John (see: Zimmermann, Jordan 2011). In Strasburg's last start, also against Atlanta, he wasn't very efficient and didn't have great command of his fastball but in the end secured the win via an explosion of offense. Against the Braves he's actually fared quite well in limited appearances, but Dan Uggla absolutely owns him (8AB, .750 AVG, 2 HR, 2.425 OPS).
Stephen Strasburg vs. Current Braves
Beachy has had a great start to the season, leading the league in ERA after tossing a complete game shutout against the Marlins on May 17. However, he has looked decidedly mortal over his last two starts, compiling a 3.75 ERA, taking two losses and not being nearly as sharp as he was in his first eight outings. That being said, his two losses were more due to a lack of run support. Beachy has put together decent numbers against current Nats, where they don't hit him hard but they do get on base at almost a .340 clip. Of the Nats who have faced Beachy multiple times; Espinosa, Zim and Flores have put up solid numbers with Harper and LaRoche doing the same in their first appearances against him last Sunday.
Brandon Beachy vs. Current Nationals
Lineup Notes: Michael Morse has finally returned from the DL and will make his season debut today in RF, Flores is back in the lineup as well after leaving Sunday's game with a hamstring issue. Corey Brown was sent down to make room for Morse, not sure what the team's plan is with carrying 3 catchers, but I'm sure that will work itself out over the next few days.