We all know that the Braves have had some struggles this year, very few of them, but they’ve still had them. Particularly with the Washington Nationals, who Atlanta will visit for three games beginning Monday night at 6:05pm CT. You might ask ‘What are we going to do with the absence of Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis?” I might have your answer. Granted it was a small sample-size during the weekend series in Philadelphia, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall could play huge roles in the absence of these two stars. Your next question might be ‘How in the world did we avoid Scherzer for two series?’ Mad Max, as he is known is dealing with a mid-back strain and wasn’t healthy enough for his Tuesday start as of Sunday. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back until then. His status for Tuesday is a toss-up. A lot of you have been asking me this: “What would a series sweep over Washington mean for the Braves?” It’s simple. Granted the Braves split their most recent series with Washington in Atlanta, the Nationals didn’t game any ground in the standings. Which is a good thing in the case of the Braves. Sweeping Washington would mean seven straight games against the Nationals gaining any ground in the standings, which would be both a big boost for the Braves and a big blow for Washington.
Coming into this weekend series against the Phillies, Atlanta was fresh off a two-game sweep courtesy of the Kansas City Royals. However, the Braves looked to be in mid-season form during the weekend in Philadelphia or what some may call “pre All-Star break” form. Friday night, Atlanta picked up a much-needed 9-2 win and on Saturday, the bats came to life and the Phillies never really had a chance from the start. Winning Saturday’s contest 15-7. A big part of that was an Ozzie Albies 3rd inning grand slam. The slam was Ozzie’s 15th homer of the year. Even though the Braves couldn’t win on Sunday, I think you have to feel really confident taking two of 3 from Philadelphia and head to Washington D.C. with a series win. Atlanta is now (62-44) on the year and 5.5 games ahead of Washington. One big impact was Ronald Acuña exiting the Sunday game with neck tightness and gave way to Charlie Culberson. Brian Snitker said Ronald Acuña “checked out good, we’ll just wait until tomorrow to see how he feels.” Snitker also said he thinks there is a chance that the All-Star center fielder could play on Monday night in Washington. On to Washington, my friends! Monday’s game will feature Dallas Keuchel taking the mound for Atlanta and Patrick Corbin getting the nod for the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm CT from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Picture: The Sports Herald-Morganton.
Some might say that the two-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals, the second-worst team in Major League Baseball, trailing only Baltimore, was destined to happen or that it’s the same thing in a different year. But personally, I think it’s just what the Braves needed to light a fire under themselves and right the ship against the two team that have been in the taillights of the Braves for a number of months now. I mentioned it to a friend the other night and I’ll say it again “Baseball is a beautifully, cruel game, you’re going to lose games that you’re supposed to win at some point every season. That’s just how it works.” You might also say “The Braves always choke after the All-Star break.” Or “I told you this would happen it always does.” But, what you critics fail to realize is this. The 2019 Braves lineup is one of the most potent lineups in baseball behind maybe the Dodgers. These guys were picked third in the preseason but yet, look where they are. This team loves playing under pressure, that’s when they play their best. Personally, I think the best is only months away. Friday’s game will feature two of the best pitchers in baseball in Mike Soroka and Jake Arietta going head-to-head in “The City of Brotherly Love” at 6:05pm CT.
Early on in the 2019 season if you had told me that Josh Donaldson would be putting up the kind of numbers that he has produced since the All-Star break has ended I would’ve probably laughed, honestly. But to my surprise, the Auburn University alum has been nothing short of scorching hot since then and he continued that hot streak on Friday night in a walk-off win for the Braves against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park, when he absolutely scorched the game-winning hit off of Nationals relief pitcher, Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning to left-center field that brought home Ronald Acuña Jr. and raised the Braves record to (59-40). The last 62 games of the 2019 regular season will be extremely critical for Atlanta as 22 percent of their remaining games come against these talented Washington Nationals. What can we expect from Josh Donaldson over the last 62 games of the regular season?
Coming into the season, everybody expected the Philadelphia Phillies to be a thorn in the NL East’s side. As people were anticipating them running away with the title in 2019. For most of the first few months of the season, the preseason expectations were right. Philadelphia seemed to be throwing around every team they played like rag dolls. Atlanta has spent much of this season as a mainstay in the second place slot in the division standings. In recent weeks however, the roles seemed to have been flipped as the Phillies are on a one game losing streak. Philadelphia is also 5-5 in their last 10 contests while the Braves have claimed the top spot in division standings after winning seven straight games and eight out of their last 10 games. This weekend’s three-game series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta could very well, set the tone for the remainder of the season. I know, it’s only June 14 but with things shaping up the way that they have been, it could see a two-team race between Atlanta and Philadelphia for the 2019 pennant. In my opinion, the other three teams have a long way to go. Especially the Miami Marlins who have gotten off to a horrid (24-42) start. This series is one to watch for sure. First pitch is at 7:20pm ET Philadelphia hands the ball to Nick Pivetta while Atlanta calls on Max Fried.