Though the Washington Nationals (59-61) suffered a demoralizing home sweep by the Atlanta Braves (74-47) last week, they responded by streaking through their schedule, and only just ended their five-game win streak with a tough ninth-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The Nationals now find themselves preparing to take on the Braves again, but they have been playing like a much different team than they were prior to their last meeting, when they were averaging 2.8 runs per game over their previous two series.
In their most recent two series, the Nationals have upped their average runs per game to six. They scored only six runs total in their last Braves matchup.
In Jayson Werth’s opinion, the uptick in scoring could have been due to a change in mentality after essentially hitting rock bottom against the Braves.
“Maybe we just said, ‘Screw it,’ ” Werth said, according to the Washington Post. “We just got our [butts] kicked. What do we got to lose? It was definitely a flip that was switched. Hopefully it was the right one.”
Though it would be nearly impossible for the Nationals to catch the Braves for the division lead from 14.5 games back, a strong performance in this series would allow the Nats to get revenge on their NL East foe, as well as contribute to their Wild Card push.
If the Nationals can use their latest momentum to win the series, it would set them up to play through a four-week stretch of their schedule when they will play five teams with a combined winning percentage of .449. The only team with a winning record they will face before they see the Braves again will be the Kansas City Royals (63-57).
The Nationals will surely be itching for that series win on Atlanta’s home turf after the way they were treated last time around. If a switch in mentality has really occurred as Werth said, perhaps they will indeed walk away with their first series win of the season against the Braves.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .500 AVG, .556 OBP, .708 SLG, 4 RBI (last six games)
Jason Heyward (RF) .480 AVG, .500 OBP, .760 SLG, 1 HR, 2 RBI (last six games)
Chris Johnson (3B) .300 AVG, .286 OBP, .700 SLG, 2 HR, 11 RBI (last six games)
Andrelton Simmons (SS) .118 AVG, .211 OBP, .176 SLG, 1 2B (last six games)
Justin Upton (LF) .250 AVG, .375 OBP, .500 SLG, 1 HR (last six games)
8/16, Taylor Jordan (1-3, 4.14 ERA, .289 BAA, 26 SO) vs. Alex Wood (2-2, 2.78 ERA, .213 BAA, 48 SO)
8/17, Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.83 ERA, .206 BAA, 153 SO) vs. Mike Minor (12-5, 2.87 ERA, .227 BAA, 143 SO)
8/18, Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.42 ERA, .227 BAA, 146 SO) vs. Julio Teheran (9-6, 3.08 ERA, .254 BAA, 127 SO) a