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Braves vs. Nationals: Atlanta Looks To Change Losing Ways In Washington

With a wild card lead of just two games with six to go, the time is now for the Braves to solidify their spot in the playoffs. The first challenge: solving Stephen Strasburg

The Atlanta Braves are two games up in the wild card standings with six games left to play. It is nothing like the ten-game lead the team had a month ago in the standings, but at this point, we'll take it.

For a franchise that has struggled so much in Washington D.C. in recent seasons, this may just be the biggest series of them all. The Braves have won just one series in the month of September and the Nationals are playing for pride at this point. They just swept the Phillies in Philadelphia -- nope, not joking -- and they would love to play the role of spoiler against Atlanta as well.

After missing Wednesday's game, both Chipper Jones and the surging Alex Gonzalez -- nope, not joking here, either -- are expected back for all three games and their solid play in the last few weeks will need to continue. Simply put, this team cannot withstand another series loss. The playoffs depend on it.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday, 7:10 EDT -Tim Hudson vs. Stephen Strasburg (OMG!) - SportSouth

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Hudson 15-10 31 31 1 1 0 0 203.0 174 81 72 14 55 150 3.19 1.13
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Stephen Strasburg 0-0 3 3 0 0 0 0 14.0 9 2 2 0 0 11 1.29 .64

Saturday, 1:10 EDT - Brandon Beachy vs. Chien-Ming Wang - SportSouth


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Brandon Beachy 7-2 24 24 0 0 0 0 135.2 120 58 54 16 42 160 3.58 1.19
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Chien-Ming Wang 3-3 10 10 0 0 0 0 56.1 63 34 27 7 13 21 4.31 1.35

Sunday, 1:35 EDT - Mike Minor vs. Tom Milone

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Mike Minor 5-2 14 14 0 0 0 0 78.0 87 38 37 6 28 72 4.27 1.47
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tom Milone 1-0 4 4 0 0 0 0 21.2 21 8 8 1 3 11 3.32 1.11

Player To Watch For:

Brian McCann

#16 / Catcher / Atlanta Braves

6-3

230

L

R

Feb 20, 1984


After being a legitimate MVP candidate through the first few months of July, Brian McCann has hit just .185/.382/.294 with a wRC+ of 79 since coming off the disabled list with a strained oblique. Call it fatigue, call it an extended slump, call it a few weeks of bad luck, the Braves need their all-star catcher to get back on track this weekend in Washington D.C.

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