August 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Jason Heyward (RF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Dan Uggla (2B), Brian McCann (C), Juan Francisco (3B), Paul Janish (SS), Paul Maholm (P).
Nationals lineup: Jayson Werth (R, RF), Bryce Harper (L, CF), Ryan Zimmerman (R, 3B), Michael Morse (R, LF), Adam LaRoche (L, 1B), Ian Desmond (R, SS), Danny Espinosa (S, 2B), Jesus Flores (R, C), Stephen Strasburg (R, P).
Game 2 vs. Nationals
The Braves missed several opportunities to take the opening game of the series in Washington, eventually falling in 13 innings by the score of 5-4.
They will look to rebound and avoid a second straight series loss in the second game, but it doesn’t get any easier. Stephen Strasburg will start for the Nationals, looking to build on a season in which he holds a 2.91 ERA and 2.80 xFIP over 139.1 innings. His 30.6% strikeout rate leads the majors, as does the xFIP by a pretty wide margin. Not only that, he owns a 7.4% walk rate and 44% ground ball rate while allowing just 12 home runs, so he basically does everything perfectly.
But if there’s one team that knows how to get to him, it’s the Braves. They have faced Strasburg four times this season, scoring 11 runs off him in 20.1 innings. Aside from two wretched starts against the Phillies and one bad one against the Padres, Strasburg’s ERA against the Braves is his highest among teams faced at 4.87 this season. Of course, he also pitched seven shutout innings against the Braves in one of those four starts, so that goes to show anything can happen over a seven-inning sample.
The Braves will turn to Paul Maholm to get them back on track. Maholm has allowed just four runs over 23 innings as a Brave. His most recent outing was one-run ball over seven innings with seven strikeouts against the Padres. The Nationals will be his first test against a contending team since the trade.
Braves.com recap for Monday’s loss.
AJC quotes following Monday’s loss. Dan Uggla: “I was going over pretty much every situation that might or could happen. I was like ‘if he hits a ball to my left’ or hits a ball hard right at me, I can just tag Kurt and touch first and we can be out of it. He hit me a tough groundball that I had to drop to my knees to catch and I didn’t exactly know where Kurt was. Once I got up and I just tried to throw the ball home, I couldn’t get the thing out of my glove.”
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes a feature on Chipper Jones.
Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus compares Chipper to Cal Ripken’s final season as a reason Chipper should go out on top.
Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs tries to explain how former Brave Todd Redmond’s fastball is so successful.
Around the NL East
Nationals recap for Monday’s win.
Keith Law writes on what is causing Bryce Harper’s struggles (Insider). Law’s two big keys are soft stuff away and facing left-handed pitchers. Harper has always had trouble with changeups and breaking pitches away, but he’s now trying to overcompensate and getting beat inside on fastballs, as well. Law suggests sitting Harper against lefties down the stretch.
Nationals first-rounder Lucas Giolito re-injured his pitching elbow and will be evaluated this week.
The Marlins have had internal discussions regarding locking up Giancarlo Stanton long-term, but nothing concrete. Stanton is arbitration eligible following the 2013 season.
Jacob Turner will officially make his Marlins debut Wednesday as part of a doubleheader.
Johan Santana’s back stiffened considerably on Monday and he will undergo an MRI. Santana’s start Thursday is now in question, and it’s unknown at this point whether he will pitch again this year.