The NL East rival Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals open their final series against one another on Thursday night from the nation’s capital as Atlanta pushes for the division title and the Nats simply play out a disappointing campaign.How to Bet Braves at Nationals MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Thursday, 6:05 PM ET
- Where: Nationals Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Robbie Erlin/Austin Voth
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: TBA
The Braves have designated INF/OF Charlie Culberson for assignment. The move cleared a spot for pitcher Jacob Webb’s return from the injured list. Culberson has been a valuable utility player for the Braves in recent years, but he’s barely played this season while going 1-for-7 with one double and four strikeouts over nine games. Webb has been out all year with a right shoulder strain, but he showed promise as a rookie last season with a 1.39 ERA and 28/12 K/BB ratio over 32 1/3 innings.
Ozzie Albies played in an intrasquad game Tuesday at the Braves’ alternate training site. There is no public timetable at the moment from the Braves, but Albies could return to the active 28-man roster before the end of this week. The dynamic second baseman has been on the injured list since August 5 because of a bone contusion in his right wrist.
It’s not clear as of this writing who will pitch Thursday’s game. It was to be ace and Cy Young candidate Max Fried, but he was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday, retroactive to September 6, with a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Fried showed diminished velocity in his most recent start on Saturday against the Nationals.
Fried has been carrying the Braves’ staff all season, posting a 1.98 ERA and 47/17 K/BB ratio in 50 innings across nine starts. He’s 6-0 on the year and the Braves are 8-1 when he starts. He has undoubtedly been Atlanta’s most valuable player through this point in the season.
The most likely guy to start Thursday is Robbie Erlin (0-0). He struggled through four-plus innings against the Red Sox last Wednesday, giving up five runs in his most recent start. Erlin’s starts have gotten progressively worse since he joined the Braves rotation; he allowed zero runs his first time out, two runs in his second start, four runs in his third start and five runs vs. Boston. He got exactly 12 outs in each of those four starts.
Erlin was used in long relief in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Marlins, covering three innings and giving up two runs on five hits while striking out one. Erlin has made four starts and four relief appearances this season, struggling to a 6.84 ERA. Since he just pitched Monday, he won’t go very deep in this one.Why Bet on Washington?
Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto has been having some elbow trouble and is going to be limited to DH duties for now. An MRI came back clean, and with the Nationals increasingly unlikely to make a postseason bid, there’s no reason to push Soto.
One of the few Nationals hitting well is Kurt Suzuki despite being a bit banged up. Suzuki, like most catchers, takes his share of hits, but the 36-year-old backstop has hurt his hand, fouled a ball off his foot, and he’s taken numerous fouls off his legs over the last week-plus.
“He goes in the training room and has ice everywhere. But he loves to play the game, and he loves to be out there. It takes a lot for him to come out of the game. He won’t come out. He’s one of those guys, I love him, he just wants to play and help us win,’ Manager Dave Martinez said.
On the flip side, Eric Thames is really struggling. His wRC+ is 66 and is worth -0.4 wins. He’s swinging at pitches outside the zone much more frequently than he has in recent years. His O-Swing% is up to 35.7 percent versus 30.9 percent a year ago. Due to his lack of production, pitchers are throwing him many more first pitch strikes (eight percent more).
Pitcher Tanner Rainey is tied for the National League lead with eight holds this season. He also ranks among NL relievers in strikeouts (4th, 27), opp. AVG (9th, .107) and opp. OBP (11th, .219). He’s tossed scoreless relief in 14 of 17 outings this season and has allowed just two extra-base hits along the way (2 2B, 2 HR).
It’s young right-hander Austin Voth (0-5) on the mound here, and it has been ugly for the ex-top prospect. Voth gave up five runs over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Braves last Friday. Voth allowed a leadoff homer to Ronald Acuña in the first inning, and Acuña came around to score again on a two-run homer by Dansby Swanson in the third. Acuña hit another two-run homer off Voth in the fourth. Voth has now allowed at least five runs in four four-straight starts.
Voth has now served up 10 homers in only 28.1 innings this season. His 8.26 ERA and 1.80 WHIP are just as awful, but the Nats don’t have any better rotation options right now.
Martinez had a message for his pitcher after last week’s outing: “I want you to be Austin Voth that personally I fell in love with, and that’s attacking the zone with your fastball,” Martinez said. “Up, in, down, away, and then after that use your secondary pitches and see where we go from there. He’s just falling behind, I don’t think he’s pitching aggressive enough.”Expert PredictionBraves 7, Nationals 5