According to the experts, the Washington Nationals were supposed to runaway with the AL East division crown. As we sit here on August 8, it is going to take a lot for them to even make the playoffs. In what could be a wasted final year of Bryce Harper’s tenure, the Nationals currently sit 5.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, which is good for third in the division. In second place is the young and hungry Atlanta Braves. Like the Phillies, most people saw the Braves as a couple years away. Between some young superstars and some solid pitching, the Braves currently sit 1 game back of the Phillies and hold the second wild card spot. The two will square off on Wednesday as the Braves (61-49) travel to Nationals Park to take on the Nationals (58-55). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET.
This four game series is currently split at one game apiece. Trying to get the advantage for the Braves will be Mike Foltynewicz (8-7, 3.04 ERA). He will be opposed by the Nationals’ Tommy Milone (1-0, 3.00 ERA).
The moneyline for Wednesday’s game is set at the Atlanta Braves +103 andthe Washington Nationals -113. The over/under for runs scored is set at 9.
Atlanta Trying To Keep Pace With Phillies
After the Braves won 3-1 on Tuesday, they are looking to make it two in a row on Wednesday. To do so, they will be turning the ball over to righty Mike Foltynewicz. On the season, he is 8-7 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .209 off of him. In 118.1 innings, he has 138 strikeouts, 49 walks and has allowed 13 home runs. In his last outing, a 4-2 win over the New York Mets, Foltynewicz went 6 innings, allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 5. Three starts ago, on July 22, he didn’t fare too well against these same Nationals, though. In that outing he went 5.2 innings, allowing 4 earned runs and striking out 5. He will hope to give his team a shot with a better performance Wednesday.
Offensively, Nick Markakis continues to have a resurgent year. At the plate, he is hitting .323/.388/.492 with a .880 OPS. He has 13 home runs, 69 runs batted in and has scored 63 runs. Another one of the more seasoned players is Freddie Freeman. Like Markakis, he is having a strong season, batting .35/.397/.521 with a .918 OPS. He has 18 home runs, 69 runs batted in and has scored 68 runs. Surrounding them with players like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. and you have a pretty solid lineup.
Nationals Trying To Climb Back In NL East Race
This isn’t exactly the year that Bryce Harper was looking for in his contract year. The power numbers are still there (27 home runs, 70 runs batted in), but the other stats are well below average. He is hitting .234/.377/.496 with a .873 OPS. Again, this is a down season by his standards, but my guess is that he will still have a nice little payday this offseason. One player who hasn’t disappointed, though, is Juan Soto. The 19 year old phenom is hitting .315/.432/.567 with a .999 OPS in 238 at bats. In that time he has 14 home runs, 39 runs batted in and 50 runs scored. If Harper does leave the Nats this offseason, Soto will lessen the blow for them.
Looking to fight back into the NL East race, the Nats will be sending lefty Tommy Millone to the hill on Wednesday. Taking the spot of the injured Stephen Strasburg, Millone is making his third start for the Nationals. In his last outing, a 5-3 win over the Mets, Millone went 7 innings allowing 1 earned run and striking out 9. The Braves do have a couple people who have touched him up for homers in his career, including Adam Duvall, Tyler Flowers and Dansby Swanson.
Braves Take The Third Game
Let’s just say that I am not completely sold on Tommy Millone. He has had a few nice games for the Nationals, but in his career, he has a 4.35 ERA, 1.334 WHIP and generally has not been a strikeout pitcher. Maybe the Nationals have caught lightning in a bottle with Millone and he will continue to be solid down the stretch, but I will take my chances, and my money, on Mike Foltynewicz and the Braves. Take the Braves in this one at +103.