Atlanta is 7-2 in nine games against Washington this season.
The Atlanta Braves will hit the road to close out the first half of the season with a four-game series against the Washington Nationals. Atlanta is coming off of a 7-3 homestand and is 53-27 on the season, just 2.5 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East standings. After ending May with a 23-27 record, Atlanta has gone 30-10 across June and July and has surged back into the playoff picture, though their immediate hopes of clambering atop the division were dashed when they lost two of three to the Mets.
Atlanta is 7-2 in nine games against the last-place Nationals this season. They dropped a series to them in April, but have swept them twice since, including a three-game sweep in Atlanta this past weekend. Juan Soto is headed back to the All-Star Game and will compete in the Home Run Derby along with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. Josh Bell has put together a quality season for Washington and could be one of the pieces that the Nationals move ahead of the Trade Deadline.
Overall, this team isn’t any different than the one the Braves recently swept. In fact, due to an off-day and a rainout, the Nationals will have played on only one day since getting swept — at the time of writing they dropped the first game of a doubleheader with the Mariners, with one more to play in the evening. They hit poorly (23rd in wRC+), field terribly (second-to-last in defensive value), and have MLB’s worst pitching staff as a result of the worst rotation and third-worst bullpen. Woof.
Thursday, July 14, 7:05 p.m. ET
Kyle Wright (17 G, 103.0 IP, 24.5 K%, 7.9 BB%, 2.97 ERA, 3.28 FIP)
Kyle Wright will close out the first half of the season in Thursday’s series opener against the Nationals. Wright’s performance has been one of the first half’s most pleasant surprises as he has locked down a rotation spot. He has allowed a total of four earned runs over his last 18 innings combined (three starts). Wright allowed eight hits and three runs over seven innings last time out against the Nationals.
Wright’s actually hit a bit of a rough patch over his last few starts, but the runs have stayed off the board anyway. He has a 73/134/115 line in his last four outings, compared to 70/69/79 in his first 13 starts of 2022. He gave up two homers in the same game for the first time this season in his last start, and has allowed four in four starts, after allowing four in his first 13 starts. He’s also struck out five or fewer batters in each of the last four starts, after doing so in just four of his first 13 starts.
Anibal Sanchez (2020: 11 GS, 53.0 IP, 17.6 K%, 7.3 BB%, 6.62 ERA, 5.46 FIP)
Former Braves right-hander Anibal Sanchez will come off the injured list Thursday and make his first major league start since the 2020 season. Sanchez posted a 2.83 ERA and 3.62 FIP (2.5 fWAR) in 136 2/3 innings with Atlanta in 2018. He then signed a two-year deal with the Nationals and put up solid numbers in 2019. Injuries limited him to 11 starts in 2020 and he sat out all of the 2021 season. Sanchez signed with the Nationals in March, but a neck injury delayed his start to the season. He’s posted an xFIP over 5.00 in his last 200+ major league innings.
Friday, July 15, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Ian Anderson (17 GS, 86.2 IP, 19.4 K%, 11.0 BB%, 4.98 ERA, 4.39 FIP)
Ian Anderson will take his turn on Friday and will be looking to head into the All-Star break on a good note. Anderson struggled to end, June allowing 11 runs over six innings in his final two starts of the month. He has quieted some of those concerns over his last two starts, where he has allowed three earned runs over his last 10 1/3 innings. He allowed two hits and two runs, but walked four in 5 1/3 innings in his last start against the Nationals, though two of those walks came after he was allowed to face the order a third time.
Patrick Corbin (18 GS, 94.2 IP, 18.8 K%, 7.5 BB%, 5.70 ERA, 4.56 FIP)
Lefty Patrick Corbin will get the call for the Nationals on Friday and will be facing the Braves in a rematch. Corbin allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings against Atlanta on July 9. That snapped a four -tart stretch where he had allowed three earned runs or less. Corbin has a 4.07 ERA in 101 2/3 career innings against Atlanta but he has struggled of late, allowing 25 runs in 24 2/3 innings across five starts the last two seasons. Corbin has a fine-enough 77/95/87 line in his last four starts, compared to much worse numbers overall.
Saturday, July 16, 4:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Max Fried (18 GS, 112.1 IP, 23.3 K%, 4.9 BB%, 2.56 ERA, 2.60 FIP)
Max Fried will make his final start Saturday before heading to Los Angeles to take part in the All-Star Game. Fried wasn’t sharp his last time out, but still gave Atlanta a chance to win against the Mets, allowing five hits, five walks and two runs in five innings. The five walks were a season-high and equaled his total from his previous five starts combined. It was by far his worst start of the season, and arguably his worst start that he didn’t leave with injury since since some point in the 2019 or 2020 season.
Paolo Espino (26 G, 6 GS, 18.8 K%, 5.5 BB%, 3.42 ERA, 4.21 FIP)
Paolo Espino will make his second straight start against the Braves in Saturday’s game. Espino began the season in the bullpen, but recently transitioned to the rotation. He allowed six hits and two runs in four innings last Sunday at Truist Park.
Sunday, July 17, 1:35 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Spencer Strider (20 G, 9 GS, 70.1 IP, 38.9 K%, 9.9 BB%, 2.56 ERA, 1.82 FIP)
Spencer Strider will close the series out for the Braves on Sunday. Strider ran up his pitch count in his last start against the Mets where he allowed five hits, one run and struck out eight over 4 2/3 innings. It was the first time in three starts that Strider had failed to log six innings. He has been lights out in July allowing a total of eight hits and two runs to go along with 31 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.