As terrible as June has seemed at times for the Nationals, they might be sorry to see it go.
After starting the month 6-11, the Nationals have found their stride this month, finishing up 8-1 to enter their last game of the month – and the first game of a 3-game set with the Braves – at 14-12 overall in June.
The Nationals (42-34) head to Atlanta 6 games ahead of the Braves (36-40), and two and a half games in front of the second-place Mets. The Mets open up a series with the Cubs in New York.
*The Last Time…
If the Nationals didn’t turn their season around on April 28th, when they came from behind to beat the Braves 13-12, they at least set a tone for their play against Atlanta this season. After losing to the Braves in the teams’ first matchup this year, the Nationals have now won 8 straight against Atlanta, including last week’s three-game sweep in Washington.
*In The Other Dugout
As hot as the Nationals have been lately, the Braves have been cold. The Braves have lost five of six to drop four games below the .500 mark and face Washington with Freddie Freeman still on the disabled list. The Braves do get to give the Nationals their best shot – Shelby Miller, Tuesday’s starter for Atlanta, went seven strong innings against the Nationals last week. Matt Wisler will pitch the second game in his third major league start, and Manny Banuelos will make his major league debut in the series finale.
*Matchup To Watch
Nick Markakis will be one to watch this week – against Jordan Zimmermann, Markakis is 7 for 21 with a homer, he’s 9 for 29 with a homer and 8 RBI against Doug Fister, and 5 for 16 (.313) against Max Scherzer. Overall against the Nationals this year Markakis is hitting .351 in 37 at-bats…but he hasn’t driven in a run.
On the Nationals side, Anthony Rendon is 4 for 11 against Shelby Miller, and when the Nationals faced Matt Wisler last week every starter had a hit against him, including an Ian Desmond home run.
Tuesday, 7:10pm: Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.94 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:10pm: Doug Fister (3-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Matt Wisler (1-1, 3.75 ERA)
Thursday, 7:10pm: Max Scherzer (9-5, 1.79 ERA) vs. Manny Banuelos (Major League Debut)