Opposite dugout: Little has gone right for winless Braves in 2016


Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (6th season)

Record: 0-5

Last 10 games: 0-5

Who to watch: 1B Freddie Freeman (.124, 1 HR, 2 RBIs), RF Nick Markakis (.300/.364/.500 with 4 RBIs), 3B Adonis Garcia (.267, 1 HR, 2 RBIs), RHP Julio Teheran (0-1, 5.40 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 0-2

Pitching probables:

April 11: RHP Bud Norris vs. RHP Max Scherzer, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
April 12: RHP Jhoulys Chacin vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m. MASN2
April 13: RHP Matt Wisler vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
April 14: RHP Julio Teheran vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 4:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Braves:

What's gone right for the Braves in 2016? Well, not very much. Through the season's first week, they're the National League's lone winless team. Their starting pitching has been spotty, their bullpen has taken the loss in three games, they're kicking the ball around on defense and their hitters aren't producing much offense. That's a recipe that has the Braves in the NL East cellar, though that could be expected from a club deep in a rebuilding project. A week into the new season, the Braves are already looking toward next year, when they'll open a new stadium in the Atlanta suburbs.

How do the Braves pull themselves out of their early-season funk? Well, some more steady offense from their veteran bats would be a good place to start. Right fielder Nick Markakis, usually a reliable on-base percentage guy, needed a three-hit day Sunday to raise his average to .300 from .214. First baseman Freddie Freeman, who kills the Nats to the tune of a .333/.392/.516 slash line with 10 career homers (including one in the season-opening loss to the Nats at Turner Field), is batting .124 and hasn't homered since. Center fielder Ender Inciarte, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller trade to add speed to the top of the lineup, was yesterday placed on the 15-day disabled list with left hamstring tightness, a red flag for a guy whose legs are a big part of his game.

The Nationals saw two of the pitchers they'll face in this four-game series during the opening two games in Atlanta, and neither fared well enough. Monday starter Bud Norris was the loser in the season's second game, dropping the decision to Stephen Strasburg; this time, he'll have the tall order of Nats ace Max Scherzer. Righty Julio Teheran, who took a no-decision in the opener for both clubs despite yielding only two runs on five hits and three walks over six innings, is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon opposite righty Tanner Roark. Norris is a reclamation project that's holding a rotation spot until a younger pitcher proves ready; asking Teheran, the de facto No. 1 in the rotation, to match up mostly against opponents' top starting pitchers is asking a lot over the course of a season.

In between, right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will pitch Tuesday against Washington's Gio Gonzalez in his Braves debut and righty Matt Wisler will go Wednesday night versus Strasburg. Chacin was once a promising innings-eater with the Rockies who has bounced around before landing with the Braves, his fourth organization, and winning a roster spot in spring training. In five career starts, he's held his own against the Nationals, going 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA. Wisler, who got a no-decision in his first start of the season on April 8, is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA against the Nats in five games, including four starts, in his career.

Atlanta's bullpen ERA is 8.66, 29th out of 30 clubs. The rotation's inability to do deep into games has put a lot of pressure on the 'pen, which hasn't responded. Former All-Star closer Jason Grilli blew a save opportunity in the season opener, and he's yet to have another chance to lock down a game. Hard-throwing Arodys Vizcaino could be next in line for ninth-inning work, but the Braves have to give him a lead to protect.

The Braves would love to get into the win column in the nation's capital, but last season, they were 0-10 at Nationals Park.

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