Joel De La Cruz (0-6, 3.72 ERA) and the Atlanta Braves (44-79) meet Gio Gonzalez (8-9, 4.28 ERA) and the Washington Nationals (73-49) in the last of a four-game division series at Turner Field. The Braves lost the last game 11-9, extending a seven-game losing streak. Washington can finish out the series sweep with a win in this game. The game starts at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 21 and will air on MASN and FSSO.
In his last start, De La Cruz pitched 5.2 innings, allowing one run, striking out four and walking two in a 4-2 loss to the Twins. Freddie Freeman (.287, 70 Rs, 24 HRs, 58 RBIs, 4 SBs) went 1 for 4 yesterday with one run. The Nationals were unsuccessful against the Rockies 6-2 the last time Gonzalez pitched. He went 3.0 innings, allowing two runs and striking out two. Daniel Murphy (.348, 74 Rs, 23 HRs, 88 RBIs, 3 SBs) has been hitting the ball well for the Nationals, going 3 for 4 yesterday with one run, one home run, and one RBI.
Atlanta, a +155 underdog, will look to capitalize at home against Washington. Oddsmakers have set the Over/Under (O/U) at eight runs. The Braves perform poorly as an underdog with a 41-67 record and have an overall money line of -1,024. Over the last 10 games, they have performed poorly when playing as the underdog (2-7). Atlanta's pitching staff will be looking to pick it up in this one after recent struggles. The Braves have given up an average of 6.6 runs to opponents in their last 10 games, above their season average of 4.8 runs per game.
Switching to the opposing dugout, the Nationals come into this game with a solid win percentage of .646 when playing as the favorite (62-34) and an overall money line of +157. Against fellow NL East members, they are 34-15 SU and have played well as the favorite with a 29-11 record. They sport the fourth-ranked offense in the NL, averaging 4.8 runs per game. Washington has an eye for the strike zone, ranking fourth in the NL with 3.5 walks per game. The Nationals are one of the top pitching staffs in the NL, essentially shutting down opponents to the tune of 3.6 runs allowed per game. They have a WHIP of 1.179 on the year, good for third in the league.
The Nationals had the upper hand against the Braves in their previous 12 games this season, earning an 11-1 record. The Braves will take on a left-hander (Gonzalez) in this game. They have done very poorly against left-handed starting pitchers this season (12-27), especially at home where they have a 5-13 record. Taking the hill against the Nationals will be the right-hander De La Cruz. They sport a 55-38 record against righties.
Predictions: SU Winner - WAS, O/U - Under
The Nationals sit at 35-15 against their divisional rivals, while the Braves are 20-30.
The Braves are coming off of a hot pitching game where they recorded nine strikeouts. The Nationals have a record of 21-26 when they are struck out that many times or more.
The Nationals are coming into the game with three consecutive wins, while the Braves currently have a losing streak of seven.
When they outhit their opponents, the Braves are 32-19. The Nationals have a 54-13 record when outhitting opponents.
Ranking 30th, Atlanta is at the bottom of the league in runs, scoring 444 this season. Washington ranks in the top 10 at sixth with 594.
Ranking 18th, Atlanta is in the bottom half of the league in walks, notching 358 this season. Washington ranks in the top 10 at sixth with 426.
When the Braves hit at least one home run, they are 25-30. When the Nationals hit at least one homer, they have a 57-27 record.