The Atlanta Braves have continued to cruise atop the NL Central, being well on pace to secure yet another playoff berth. The Washington Nationals are not far behind them being in the top wildcard spot heading into Saturday’s contest. All of this sets up a highly intense matchup with plenty of postseason implications involved.
Nationals hoping to navigate through wildcard picture
The Nationals have navigated themselves to the thick of the playoff picture currently holding a one-game edge over the three-way tie for the second spot that includes the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers. Washington has picked up over the last few weeks that has them squarely in the playoff picture after having won six out of their last 10 contests. The team has had some bright spots along the roster led by the stellar play of All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is putting forth a career-best campaign hitting .318 with 20 home runs, and 66 RBI that has him on pace to notch 34 home runs, 111 RBI, and 118 runs scored. Rendon’s production hasn’t been standout by any means this month, but he has been an effective hitter batting .340 with a home run, seven RBI, and holds a .939 OPS.
Meanwhile, outfielder Juan Soto has quickly proven to be a highly reliable factor at the plate, hitting .294 with 17 home runs and 61 RBI this year. Soto has been a major factor in July as he’s hitting .302 with three home runs, nine RBI, 10 runs scored, and a .994 OPS in 43 at-bats over that span. His play has been huge in providing balance to the lineup, especially with the departure of Bryce Harper over the past offseason. It has opened the way for Soto to step into a prominent role in the lineup as he’s proven to be a key piece of the puzzle for the long haul. This is a matchup that will come down to the play on the mound as the Nationals are turning to right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who holds a 5-6 record with a 3.71 ERA in his first 17 starts. Sanchez has won four out of his last seven starts, but has allowed home runs in the last seven straight contests and eight of the last 10 overall during that span. With a tough matchup on the road against the Braves, it could come into play against the toast of the division.
Braves looking to keep grip hold on NL East
Through much of the season, the Braves have had a strong grasp of the NL East being in the driver seat moving toward the playoffs. Atlanta currently has sizeable lead over the Nationals being 6.5 games ahead of them heading into Saturday’s contests. The Braves have proven to be the toast of the NL East over the last several years that has been reinvigorated by their core group that has shown to have plenty of promise. This charge has taken to the next level with offseason moves such as bringing in former All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has been a major part of their offense as he’s hitting .255 with 22 home runs and 56 RBI that have him on the trajection to notch 36 home runs and 92 RBI. His bat has picked up this month as he’s hitting .268 with seven home runs, and 16 RBI over that span. This has particularly been the case in the last seven days as he’s hitting .318 with four home runs and 10 RBI over that span. He is coming off hitting a walk-off grand slam in Friday’s contest.
Meanwhile, All-Star outfielder Ronald Ozuna has been a major factor with his bat in his second campaign as he’s hitting .290 with 23 home runs, and 56 RBI that have him on pace to notch 38 home runs and 92 RBI. Ozuna has proven to be one of the bright young stars in the league that will be a cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade. The Braves hold one of the league’s most productive offenses currently ranked sixth in runs scored, eighth in hits and home runs, ninth in batting average, and sixth in slugging percentage. The Braves will the benefit of turning to their rising star right-hander Mike Soroka, who holds a 10-1 record with a 2.24 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP in his first 16 starts this year. The Braves have had much success with Soroka on the mound over the last 10 games as the team has won nine of those contests in the process. He is also coming off a dominating performance where he posted seven scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the San Diego. Given his play along with having one of the league’s best offenses behind him certainly pushes things heavily in the Braves’ favor.
- Braves are 4-0 in Soroka’s last four starts during Game 3 of a series.
- Braves are 9-0 in Soroka’s last nine starts against National League East division opponents.
- Braves are 6-0 in Soroka’s last six home starts.
- Under is 4-0 in Nationals’ last four during Game 3 of a series.
- Under is 7-1-1 in Nationals’ last nine games against a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.
- Under is 7-1 in Nationals last eight games overall.