The Nationals may not have swept the Marlins, but they did win the series and both Max Scherzer were excellent in the final game of the series, with Scherzer going 7 innings and striking out 10. His only hiccup was an unearthly home run from none other than Giancarlo Stanton. Given the individual who hit that home run, I actually don't know if calling it a hiccup is fair. Either way, the Nationals kept Stanton off the bases for the most part and won the series as a result. It's good to see the Nationals beat teams they should beat. Today, the Nationals kick off the 2nd series of the homestand against the Braves.The Nationals need a series win to be at .500, but if they manage a sweep they'll have a winning record for the first time in 2015. The series will kick off with a good old fashioned Southpaw matchup when the Braves throw Eric Stults on the hill and the Nationals put Gio Gonzalez up as his opposition.
Stults hasn't had the best season so far, with a 4.91 ERA and a 5.07 FIP after 5 starts this season. An MLB veteran who is in his 9th big league season, he has had a tendency to go deep into games, but give up a lot of runs in all his starts this year. In his last start, he went 7 innings, but allowed 6 runs while only striking out 2. That is not only unimpressive, that is bad news for the Braves. Is it mean to say he brings Derek Lowe stuff without the results? I don't know, but I just said it. This is a guy the Nationals should be able to do well against, and hopefully that is the case today. Having said that, the Nationals have 96 plate appearances against this pitcher and have a .754 OPS in that time. Interestingly, Danny Espinosa has ripped the cover off the ball against this guy, so keep an eye on the home town infielder should he be inserted into the lineup.
Stults vs. Current Nationals
Gio has had a couple of forgettable starts so far this year, but overall he's been quite good. He goes into tonight's action with a 3.86 ERA and a 2.93 FIP. BB/9 and K/9 all seem to be right in line with his career norms as well, so rest assured we are seeing the Gio that we should be seeing. The lefty's last start was his best so far this year, with him going 7 innings, striking out 9, walking only 2, and allowing absolutely no runs. It was fun to see and gives you the sense that he's starting to help the team get on track and help win some games. While Gio's been trending in the right direction, his numbers against the Braves current lineup is something of a concern. 139 plate appearances reflects an even .800 OPS against Gio, with Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, and Alberto Callaspo simply owning him. Nick Markakis has been no slouch against Gio either. Maybe tonight will be the night where Gio get the better of these hitters, there is a reason the games are played after all.
Gio vs. Current Braves