ATLANTA - Who better to send to the mound as you’re trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of your chief division competitors than your NL Cy Young Award candidate?
Gio Gonzalez gets the ball tonight, looking for his 20th win of the season and for the Nationals’ win after dropping the last two to the Braves.
The left-hander has been on a roll lately, allowing just one earned run over his last 22 innings, spanning three starts. He has 23 strikeouts over that span.
Gonzalez is also 2-0 in his two starts at Turner Field this season.
Mike Minor (8-10, 4.42 ERA) will get the start for Atlanta. The lefty has faced the Nats twice this year, allowing eight runs over 10 innings.
Danny Espinosa is batting .273 with a home run and three RBIs in his career against Minor, so this might be a nice chance for him to snap out of a rough stretch the last couple days.
Espinosa has struck out in all eight plate appearances during this series, registering back-to-back golden sombreros after rejoining the Nats after the death of his grandmother.
After last night’s game, Espinosa sat in full uniform for about half an hour, watching video of his at-bats and then staring into his locker.
“He was really in a good place,” manager Davey Johnson said. “(Kris) Medlen maybe got him a little confused or something (in the series opener), because he made good pitches on him. But his timing’s gotten a little off. He’ll be all right.”
Eight Nationals Ks have belonged to Espinosa this series, but they’ve had 21 from the rest of their roster over these last two days as well. They haven’t put the ball in play nearly enough against Atlanta, especially in big spots.