BRAVES (44-31) AT NATIONALS (36-38)
7:05 p.m. ET; MASN, FSSO, MLB.TV
There has been a lot of excitement at Nationals Park this week, and that will continue on Friday when the Atlanta Braves begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
The Braves plan to start veteran lefty pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who was signed by the club two weeks ago on a one-year, $21.2 million contract after going unsigned through free agency, spring training and the early portion of the regular season. Washington plans to start Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75 ERA), who is coming off a rough start.
“We’re taking it a day at a time right now, but everything is pointing 1/8toward Friday 3/8,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday of Keuchel’s expected debut.
The Braves were off Thursday and arrived in the nation’s capital as the Nationals were getting ready to put the finishing touches on a 7-4 win over the Phillies and their first three-game sweep of the year.
“We are just playing day-by-day,” Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki told Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) after the win Thursday, which followed a doubleheader sweep Wednesday.
“We definitely played a complete game tonight,” said third baseman Anthony Rendon, who had a homer and double.
Strasburg allowed a career-high four homers in his previous start on Saturday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Keuchel is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts in his career against Washington. Current Nationals players are 35-for-98 (.357) with two homers against Keuchel.
Veteran hitter Howie Kendrick is 8-for-21 (.381) with a homer against the Atlanta pitcher, and Brian Dozier is 6-for-12 (.500) with a homer. Dozier hit a homer in each game of a twinbill sweep of the Phillies on Wednesday.
Strasburg will try to bounce back after giving up six runs Saturday to Arizona, before which he had won three straight starts and four straight decisions dating to May 18. He is 12-11 with a 4.01 ERA in his career against Atlanta in 31 starts.
In his only start the season against the Braves, he got the win as he went seven innings and gave up two runs on May 28, fanning a season-high 11 batters.
Keuchel started two games for Double-A Mississippi in the Southern League earlier this month, going seven innings each time and allowing a combined three runs on 12 hits, striking out 13 and walking two.
The lefty won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 with Houston, when he was 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts.
Last year with the Astros, he was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts.
Veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals is slated to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League. He has been on the injured list since April 28 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
–Field Level Media