A pair of injury-stricken teams will meet for the first time this season when the Washington Nationals visit the Atlanta Braves for a three-game series beginning Monday.
The Braves are coming off a 4-5 road trip, but won the last two of a three-game set against Miami. Washington is 4-3 on its current road trip and beat Baltimore on Sunday to take two of three from the Orioles.
The pitching matchup features Atlanta right-hander Touki Toussaint (0-1, 7.27 ERA) vs. veteran Washington right-hander Anibal Sanchez (0-3, 9.69).
Neither team is at full strength.
The Nationals are without starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who went on the injured list Saturday with carpal tunnel neuritis of the right hand, and shortstop Starlin Castro, who broke his right wrist on Friday. The Nats were already without relievers Sean Doolittle (right knee inflammation) and Sam Freeman (left forearm strain).
The Braves are without slugging outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who was placed on the injured list Saturday with a sprained right wrist. They were already missing second baseman Ozzie Albies (right wrist contusion), first baseman/designated hitter Matt Adams (strained left hamstring), and setup man Chris Martin (esophageal constriction). Pitching ace Mike Soroka is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
Toussaint pitched well on Aug. 6 against Toronto, when he gave up three runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings, but he digressed against the New York Yankees last Tuesday when he surrendered six runs (five earned) over four innings.
“I feel like he actually threw the ball pretty well,” Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers told reporters of Toussaint’s Yankees outing. “When you look at the stat line, it feels silly to say that, but in reality I feel like he executed a lot of pitches and they did a tremendous job fouling them off and making him work more and more. Eventually, you can’t put every one exactly where you want it. They did a great job taking advantage of those.”
Toussaint has four career appearances against Washington, all of them in relief, and has an 8.59 ERA in 7 1/3 innings with 10 walks and five strikeouts in those games.
Sanchez, who pitched for Atlanta in 2018, was rocked for five runs in 2 2/3 innings by the New York Mets last Wednesday.
“He’s not locating any of his pitches. He’s falling behind,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “I haven’t seen him like that. Just got to get him right. I actually think he might be throwing a little too much. He throws every day.”
Sanchez says he is willing to make alterations to his preparation.
“Right now, you need to try everything,” he told reporters. “It’s one of the things I’ll probably change before my next outing, just rest a little bit more with my arm.”
Sanchez is 8-11 with a 4.64 ERA in 23 career starts against Atlanta. He made five starts against the Braves in 2019 and went 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA.
Washington’s Juan Soto has been unstoppable during the road trip. He went 2-for-3 on Sunday and is batting .462 (12-for-26) with five homers and 12 RBIs over his last seven games.
For the season, Soto is hitting .425 with six homers and 14 RBI.
--Field Level Media
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