Major League Baseball
Preview
Atlanta at Washington
When: 1:35 PM ET, Sunday, July 22, 2018
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia

The Washington Nationals hope Saturday’s rainout provides a reset entering Sunday’s finale of a three-game home series against the Atlanta Braves, following an 8-5 loss in Friday’s first game since the All-Star break that featured subpar pitching and dugout fireworks. Stephen Strasburg struggled in his return from the disabled list, giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings and getting a tongue-lashing from Sunday starter Max Scherzer after being pulled as the Nationals again fell below .500.

The overwhelming favorite to win their third-consecutive National League East title, the Nationals (48-49) sit 6 ½ games behind first-place Philadelphia and six games back of the Braves (53-42) despite the efforts of the youngest player in the majors. Nineteen-year-old Juan Soto belted his 10th homer of the season in the series opener and enters Sunday batting .302 with a .944 OPS in 52 games while collecting at least one hit in eight of his past 12 contests. The series also features the second-youngest player in the big leagues in Atlanta 20-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr., who responded to his first career start at leadoff with three hits, a homer, three runs scored and two stolen bases Friday. Acuna, who missed five weeks with a left knee injury, has slugged eight homers while batting .260 with a .468 slugging percentage in 44 games.

TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FS South (Atlanta), MASN 2 (Washington)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 2.66 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.41)

Foltynewicz earned his first All-Star berth with an excellent first half but seeks a better showing to kick off the second half after allowing five runs on six hits in each of his final two starts before the break. The 26-year-old, who ranks fourth in the NL in ERA and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.6), pitched to a 0.87 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .146 average in nine turns before his final two outings. Foltynewicz is 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA in three starts against the Nationals this season.

Pitching five days shy of his 34th birthday, Scherzer looks to build off his sixth All-Star appearance and get back to his dominant self. After giving up just nine runs in five June outings, the three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed 10 runs on 16 hits in 20 innings in his first three starts in July, yet still posted victories over Miami and the New York Mets entering the break. Scherzer faced the Braves twice in April, giving up five runs (two earned) in an April 4 loss before striking out 10 in a two-hit shutout five days later.

WALK-OFFS

1. Atlanta 2B Ozzie Albies is not expected to play Sunday after being pulled Friday for precautionary reasons due to a right hamstring injury.

2. Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez and Braves LHP Sean Newcomb, both scheduled to start Saturday’s postponed game, will instead pitch series openers Monday (Washington plays at Milwaukee; Atlanta travels to Miami).

3. The Braves have defeated Washington five times in the past six meetings and lead the season series 7-4.

PREDICTION: Nationals 3, Braves 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Atlanta 53-42 W2 25-20 28-22 28-14 10-9 8-11 7-8
Washington 48-49 L1 22-25 26-24 18-20 8-2 13-16 9-11
Last Meeting
Atlanta Washington
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/20/18 ATL 8 WAS 5 .316 2 .977 .235 3 .827
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Atlanta F. Freeman .350 14 1.058
Washington A. Rendon .234 11 .558
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Atlanta P. Tucker 2 4 7
Washington B. Harper 2 7 5
Pitching ERA Avg K
Atlanta 2.74 .222 109
Washington 3.87 .200 104
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Atlanta N. Markakis .323 121 .872
Washington A. Rendon .285 84 .872
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Atlanta O. Albies 20 75 56
Washington B. Harper 23 57 54
Pitching ERA Avg K
Atlanta 3.84 .259 847
Washington 3.91 .244 871