The Braves will return to Truist Park for a six-game homestand that starts Friday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. The Nats won’t look like the same team that the Braves faced 10 times earlier this season.
Gone are star pitcher Max Scherzer, star shortstop Trea Turner, outfielder Kyle Schwarber, catcher Yan Gomes, infielder-outfielder Josh Harrison, starting pitcher Jon Lester and relievers Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson – all dealt at the trade deadline as the Nationals unloaded eight veterans for 12 prospects.
With their trades of veterans last week, the Nationals and Miami Marlins effectively yielded the National League East race to the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Braves. But the fourth-place Nats and last-place Marlins remain in position to influence the division standings, as demonstrated by Miami winning three of four games from the first-place Mets this week.
The Braves have nine games remaining against Washington and six against Miami -- more than against the Mets and Phillies (three each).
“These teams are still really good. They have good players,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Thursday of the Nationals and Marlins. “Clubs that do that (sell at the trade deadline) have a way of kind of pulling on their bootstraps and proving everybody wrong. So those are going to be tough rides, both of those teams.”
Even before the Nationals’ sell-off, the Braves had fared well against them this season, winning seven of 10 meetings. Washington is the only NL East team against which the Braves have a winning record; they’re 8-8 against the Mets, 7-9 against the Phillies and 6-7 against the Marlins.
Braves rookie left-hander Kyle Muller (2-3, 2.43 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night against Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde (4-7, 5.01). On Saturday night, Braves right-hander Charlie Morton is slated to pitch against Nationals rookie right-hander Josiah Gray, one of four prospects acquired from the Dodgers in the Scherzer/Turner trade; in his Nationals debut Monday, Gray allowed one run in five innings against the Phillies. And Sunday afternoon, Braves left-hander Max Fried (8-7, 4.05) will oppose Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-10, 5.74).
The Nationals come to Truist Park after being swept by the Phillies in a four-game series in Washington this week.
Braves fans may do a bit of scoreboard-watching over the weekend: The Mets and Phillies will meet in a three-game series at Philadelphia.
After the series against Washington, the Braves’ homestand will continue with a three-game series starting Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds, the second-place team in the NL Central.
-- Outfielder Eddie Rosario, on the injured list with an abdominal strain since before the Braves acquired him from Cleveland last week, has taken batting practice in St. Louis this week and is expected to start a minor-league rehab assignment soon. Trainers “want to make sure he does all his hitting and then comes in the next day and is not real sore,” Snitker said. “It’s going to be a day-to-day thing.”
-- After starting an outfield (left to right) of Adam Duvall, Guillermo Heredia and Jorge Soler against the Cardinals on Wednesday, the Braves started Duvall, Joc Pederson and Soler on Thursday. “The overall depth, I think we did a really good job in addressing that at the (trade) deadline,” Snitker said. “There’s some good choices. And then, when they’re not playing, it’s nice to have those guys off the bench, too.”
-- The Braves lead the major leagues in home attendance (1,542,226) and average attendance per home date (29,099). After starting the season with reduced capacity, the Braves became the second MLB team to reopen to full crowds in early May.
-- Wednesday’s victory marked the first time this season the Braves won a game that was tied at the end of seven innings. They were 0-11 in such games previously.
-- Shortstop Dansby Swanson is hitting .333/.381/.629 over his past 26 games (through Wednesday).