Opposite dugout: Braves aim to stay in the thick of NL East race

Manager: Brian Snitker (3rd season)
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Record: 60-48

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: 1B Freddie Freeman (.316 average with 18 HR, 69 RBIs), RF Nick Markakis (.319 average with 68 RBIs, 135 hits), CF Ender Inciarte (.253 average with 105 hits, 23 stolen bases), 2B Ozzie Albies (.276 average with 20 HR, 123 hits), LHP Sean Newcomb (10-5, 3.23 ERA), RHP Mike Foltynewicz (8-7, 3.04 ERA), CL A.J. Minter (2.98 ERA, 8 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 7-5

Pitching probables:

Aug. 7: LHP Max Fried (1-4) vs. RHP Jefry Rodriguez (0-1), 1:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 7: LHP Sean Newcomb (10-5) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (15-5), 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 8: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (8-7) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (1-0), 7:00 p.m., MASN
Aug. 9: RHP Aníbal Sánchez (6-3) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-8), 1:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Braves:

If the Braves have hope of capturing their first division title since 2013, they’ll have to take care of business against the National League East’s two other potential party crashers: Philadelphia and Washington. Atlanta has two series against both the Phillies and Nationals remaining this season, starting with this week’s trip to our nation’s capital. This four-game set is the Braves’ last stop before returning home for a lengthy homestand, and presents a good chance to put some distance between themselves and the Nationals in the race for the NL East crown.

During this past weekend’s series against the Mets, the Braves took three out of four, despite scoring more than four runs only once. Still, Atlanta’s offense packs plenty of punch. The Braves rank second in the senior circuit with a .259 team batting average, led by a pair of All-Stars in Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Freeman is batting .316 with 18 home runs and a team-leading 69 RBIs. Markakis, meanwhile, leads the team with a .319 average and 135 hits. Second-year player Ozzie Albies hasn’t fallen victim to a sophomore slump. He’s hitting .276 and leads the team with 20 home runs. Keep an eye on center fielder Ender Inciarte, too. The 27-year-old doesn’t boast much power, but is fifth in the NL with 23 stolen bases.

Rookie Max Fried gets things started for the Braves during today’s doubleheader. Fried is just 1-4 on the year, despite entering today’s start with a 3.38 ERA. In his last start on July 28, the left-hander issued just one earned run over five innings in a loss to the Dodgers. Pitching the nightcap for the Braves during the doubleheader is ace Sean Newcomb. Newcomb has been sensational this year, posting a 10-5 record a 3.23 ERA. Still, in two starts against the Nationals, Newcomb hasn’t exactly been lights out. He allowed five earned runs in a start back on April 2, and allowed a pair of runs in his other start against the Nats on May 31. Mike Foltynewicz will look to continue his success against Washington. In four starts against the Nats this season, Foltynewicz has a 2.52 ERA and has tallied 27 strikeouts. It’ll be veteran Aníbal Sánchez pitching in the series finale. Sánchez is 6-3 on the year with a 2.89 ERA. In his last two starts against the Nationals, Sánchez has registered quality starts in both, and will look to build off of his last start, during which he allowed one earned run over six innings against the Mets.

Arodys Vizcaíno typically handles the closing duties for the Braves, but he’s currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. With Vizcaíno on the mend, lefty A.J. Minter steps into the closer’s role. Minter is 4-2 on the year with a 2.98 ERA and eight saves.

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