After a great win in game one in which Anthony Rendon hit a go ahead grand slam which would ultimately decide the game, the Braves answered quickly and took both games two and three, despite solid comeback efforts by the Nationals.
The major problem in this series was the starting pitching. Besides a great start by Patrick Corbin in which he gave up two earned runs in 6 innings, the Nats’ starting pitchers were either below average or downright terrible against a tough Braves’ lineup headlined by first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Starting pitcher Eric Fedde gave up nine runs in 3.2 innings in game two, and Anibal Sanchez gave up four runs in 5 innings. Two badly-timed starts for a team needing to gain ground on its division rival. While the deadline has already passed, it would have been nice to go after a solid fifth starter to firm up the rotation. While both Fedde and Sanchez have been solid this season, a little more rotation depth never hurts and can help to avoid performances such as this.
However, if it comes to a potential playoff series between these two teams Nationals fans do not need to worry. Luckily for the Braves, neither Strasburg or Scherzer were available to pitch in the series, but in a battle for the pennant they surely would be. The Nationals bullpen performed very well, giving up only four runs in 12.1 innings, which is exceptional considering the Braves hit extremely well in later innings.
Another positive take away from this series is that the Nats never stopped fighting. Even after being down 9-0 on Tuesday the Nats battled back to make it an 11-8 game, and nearly sent the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. On Wednesday they were able to battle back in the late innings to turn a 4-1 game going into the 8th into extras.
While the backend of the starting rotation inability to hold back the Braves offense resulted in a major missed opportunity for the Nationals to make up some ground, both the bullpen and the offense proved that they weren’t willing to quit on games. That is something that bodes very well for the rest of the season.