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Nationals Vs. Braves Series Preview: Michael Bourn Arrives As Atlanta Travels North

Traveling up to Washington DC and facing the Nationals at their ballpark is similar to a colonoscopy. It's stressful, you don't want to go, and the outcome usually isn't good, but it's something that is required.

The Braves will take on the Nationals in a three-game series this week in the nation's hot and steamy capital. While a series against our NL East foes is never enjoyable, it will be the debut of our recently acquired leadoff man, Michael Bourn. That at least makes this series a little more fun.

Let's take a closer look at the 51-56 Nationals, who have lost seven of their last ten games...

The Rookie of the Year?

Danny Espinosa

#18 / Second Base / Washington Nationals

6-0

190

B

R

Apr 25, 1987

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Danny Espinosa 107 386 49 88 15 5 17 55 36 106 12 2 .228 .317 .425

Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Beachy all have a chance to win the Rookie of the Year award for the National League, but Danny Espinosa is making a serious bid to take the title. The slugging second baseman has had a big year both at the plate and in the field and has been Washington's best overall player this season. He is susceptible to a few strikeouts, but he can do some damage if you leave a mistake up in the zone.

Pitching matchups:

Monday, 7:05EDT - Jair Jurrjens vs. Livan Hernandez

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jair Jurrjens 12-3 19 19 2 1 0 0 128.2 111 36 34 9 33 84 2.38 1.12
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Livan Hernandez 5-10 23 22 1 1 0 0 135.1 153 71 63 12 38 86 4.19 1.41

Tuesday, 7:05EDT - Derek Lowe vs. John Lannan

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Derek Lowe 6-9 23 23 0 0 0 0 129.1 137 66 65 7 48 89 4.52 1.43
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - John Lannan 7-7 22 22 0 0 0 0 126.1 122 54 51 10 49 72 3.63 1.35

Wednesday, 1:05EDT - Brandon Beachy vs. Chien-Ming Wang

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Brandon Beachy 4-2 15 15 0 0 0 0 85.1 74 34 31 13 27 91 3.27 1.18
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Chien-Ming Wang 0-1 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.0 8 6 4 0 1 2 9.00 2.25

Bullpen:

Tyler Clippard

#36 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals

6-3

200

R

R

Feb 14, 1985

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tyler Clippard 1-0 48 0 0 0 0 5 60.2 30 11 11 8 20 74 1.63 .82

Tyler Clippard headlines a bullpen that has been pretty solid all season long. The All-Star set-up man has been great for the Nationals, and his good work has set up Drew Storen to record 26 saves. Outside of those two, Todd Coffey, Ross Detwiler and Henry Rodriguez have all gotten the job done in middle relief and long-man Sean Burnett always seems to give Atlanta problems despite not featuring very good numbers.

Series Outlook:

The Nationals always play the Braves tough. They have since 2007, and it just seems like the Braves never catch a break when facing their NL East foes. Michael Bourn will provide a spark, though, and Atlanta will hopefully take two out of three.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.