Braves Face Nats, Look To Improve Standing

Ervin Santana will look to lead the Braves to victory over the Nationals on Tuesday.

Ervin Santana will look to lead the Braves to victory over the Nationals on Tuesday.

While it looks increasingly unlikely that the Atlanta Braves will catch the Washington Nationals in the race for the NL East title, the Braves will head into Tuesday’s game still fighting for a chance to reach the postseason via the wild card route.

First pitch at Nationals Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

20140908_NL_EastAtlanta (74-70, 34-39 road) remains in the hunt for a postseason berth, despite a sub-.500 second half and a poor start to September. The Braves are just 2-5 since the calendar flipped over, yet remain just one-game in the win column behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, the club currently occupying that oh so valuable second wild card berth.

The Braves will undeniably need to play better if they’re to catch the Bucs, or if they’re to fend off the Milwaukee Brewers – currently in a virtual tie with the Braves. That means winning in Washington on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

Sporting the National League’s best record, Washington (81-61, 45-27 home) needs merely to stay the course and it’ll reach the postseason for a second time in three seasons. But merely turning up to the dance isn’t enough.

Over the coming weeks, the Nationals will look to secure home field advantage through the National League portion of the postseason (the American League won the All-Star Game and therefore has home advantage in the World Series). The Nationals are 45-27 at home this season, the best marker in the league, and second only to the Los Angeles Angels (47-24) in the majors. Playing at home really could make the difference in October.

The Nationals opened this week’s intra-division series with a 2-1 win on Monday night, getting solid pitching from Doug Fister, who allowed just two hits through seven innings en route to a 13th win of the season. They’ll look for more of the same on Tuesday, while the Braves will look to upset the applecart.

Pitching matchup

Washington will send Jordan Zimmerman (10-5, 2.93 ERA) to the mound, where he’ll pitch his third game against Atlanta this season.

The 28-year-old right-hander has recorded a decision in just 15 of 28 games this season, although the Nationals are 9-4 in games he pitches without reaching a decision.

Zimmerman is 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA in his last 13 starts, a period in which the Nationals have gone 11-2, which is enough to make the home side a heavy favorite tonight.

  • Zimmerman is 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 9 career games (9 starts) vs. Atlanta
  • Zimmerman is 29-18 with a 3.24 ERA in 73 career games (73 starts) at Nationals Park
  • Zimmerman is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 2 games (2 starts) vs. Atlanta this season
  • Zimmerman is 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 15 games (15 starts) at Nationals Park this season

Atlanta will counter with Ervin Santana (14-7, 3.61 ERA).

Since losing in Washington on June 22, Santana is 9-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 13 games. Over his past 10, he’s gone 7-1 with a 2.94 ERA, although only three of those games came on the road, where the right-hander has struggled this season. Santana is 4-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 13 games away from Turner Field.

  • Santana is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 6 career games (6 starts) vs. Washington
  • Santana is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 2 career games (2 starts) at Nationals Park
  • Santana is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 2 games (2 starts) vs. Washington this season
  • Santana is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 1 game (1 start) at Nationals Park this season

Injury report

Atlanta catcher Evan Gattis is listed as day-to-day with strep throat. He missed Monday’s series opener. In addition to well-documented long-term injuries to its pitching staff, the club is also without pitchers Shae Simmons and Jonny Venters, both on the 15-day DL.

Washington outfielder Nate McClouth was lost for the season at the end of last month, while third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury.

Washington's Ryan Zimmerman remains on the 15-day DL.

Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman remains on the 15-day DL.

Betting report

Below you’ll find significant trends and observations relating to this matchup.

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals odds for 09/09/2014

Washington (-135) opened as the favorite over Atlanta (+125) on the moneyline. That advantage has stretched, with the Nationals sitting at -152 with some sportsbooks at the time of writing.

Atlanta owns a 9-5 advantage in the season head-to-head, but the Nationals’ win on Monday night means the two teams are knotted 4-4 when playing in D.C.

Some other trends to consider:

  • Atlanta is- 57-46 in night games
  • Washington is 52-42 in night games
  • Atlanta is 36-29 vs. NL East opponents
  • Washington is 30-26 vs. NL East opponents
  • Atlanta is 57-58 vs. right-handed pitching
  • Washington is 55-46 vs. right-handed pitching
  • Atlanta is 22-27 since the All-Star break
  • Washington is 30-19 since the All-Star break
  • Atlanta is 2-5 since September 1
  • Washington is 4-3 since September 1

The total opened at 7, where it remains.

The total has gone under in five of the last six head-to-head meetings, as well as five of the last six the two teams have played at Nationals Park.

With Atlanta having only managed 16 runs in the last nine games, the under certainly looks like the favorable option for bettors heading into this one.

*****

The Braves and Nationals conclude this three-game series on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

Over the weekend, Atlanta faces a road series with the Texas Rangers (Fri-Sun), while Washington hits the road to take on the New York Mets (Thu-Sun).

Next Tuesday, the two NL East rivals will rendezvous at Turner Field for a three-game set that marks the final head-to-head competition of the season. That is, of course, if they don’t meet in October.

*****

For a full list of today’s Major League Baseball odds, click here.

For MLB Futures odds, courtesy of Bovada, click here.

For team prop bets, click here.

For player prop bets, click here.

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