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Braves vs. Nationals Preview: Showdown In NL East Begins Monday

Previewing this week's key series between the Braves and Phillies.

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 09:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning on Opening Day at AT&T Park on April 9, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 09: Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning on Opening Day at AT&T Park on April 9, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Atlanta Braves enter Monday's three-game series with the Nationals five games back of the division lead. With about 40 games left to play and only one more series remaining between the two clubs, you can bet the Braves will be looking to make their move in Washington.

This series features two of the hottest teams around since the All-Star Game. It also pits two of the five teams that have reached the 70-win plateau up until this point, along with the Rangers, Reds and Yankees. Each of the pitching matchups are excellent this week, which should make for some thrilling baseball in the nation's capital.

The Nationals are essentially the same team they've been for months now. They feature the best pitching staff in either league in terms of ERA. Their offense is not great, but it's been red-hot in recent weeks and is really coming together nicely for the playoff push.

Here are the pitching matchups and start times for the series.

Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET - Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 2.38 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Paul Maholm (2-1, 1.57 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 2.91 ERA)

Wednesday. 7:05 p.m. - Kris Medlen (4-1, 2.03 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (7-5, 3.25 ERA)

For more on the Braves, check out Talking Chop.

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