Game 97 lineups: Nats vs. Braves (Strasburg, Zimmerman active)

And away we go again. The second half of the season commences tonight, with the Nationals hosting the Braves for a big three-game series. Then again, every series is going to be big the rest of the way, with the Nats needing to make up a 5 1/2-game deficit and catch both the Braves and Phillies in the National League East.

sidebar-Strasburg-white.jpgAs expected, the Nationals will open the second half with two key figures returning from the disabled list: Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman. Strasburg makes the start and will try to set the tone and reverse this team's shocking rotation collapse since he last pitched. Zimmerman, however, is not in the lineup.

Instead it's Matt Adams batting sixth and playing first base against Atlanta right-hander Aníbal Sánchez. This is going to be among Davey Martinez's biggest challenges the rest of the way, deciding how to divvy up playing time, even if it means big-name veterans sitting on the bench.

The corresponding roster moves made to activate Strasburg and Zimmerman: Wander Suero and Trevor Gott were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. That means the Nats, for now, will go with a six-man bench and a six-man bullpen. They probably won't stick with that arrangement for long, though, especially with Sean Doolittle likely ready to return from the DL in a matter of days.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, wind 11 mph right field to left field

NATIONALS
RF Adam Eaton
SS Trea Turner
CF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
1B Matt Adams
2B Daniel Murphy
C Matt Wieters
RHP Stephen Strasburg

BRAVES
LF Ronald Acuña Jr.
2B Ozzie Albies
1B Freddie Freeman
RF Nick Markakis
C Kurt Suzuki
3B Johan Camargo
CF Ender Inciarte
SS Dansby Swanson
RHP Aníbal Sánchez

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