Opposite dugout: New-look Braves face Nats for first time in four months

braves-logo.jpgManager: Brian Snitker (interim manager)

Record: 43-72

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: 1B Freddie Freeman (.281/.371/.521 with 21HR, 49 RBIs), RF Nick Markakis (.274 /.348/.388 with 62 RBIs), 3B Adonis Garcia (9 HR, 39 RBIs), RHP Mike Foltynewicz (5-5, 4.837 ERA), RHP Jim Johnson (3.61 ERA with 9 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 0-6

Pitching probables:

Aug. 12: RHP Mike Foltynewicz vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 13: RHP Rob Whalen vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 14: RHP Tyrell Jenkins vs. RHP Max Scherzer, 1:35 p.m., MASN

Inside the Braves:

It's been awhile since the Braves could hold their heads up high. And it's been awhile since the Nats last saw them. These two National League East rivals last squared off in the second week of April for a four-game series at Nats Park. (You might remember the last game of that series when Bryce Harper hit his 100th career home run on a grand slam, coincidentally on this blogger's birthday, but that's neither here nor there ...)

Four months later, the Braves will have a different look to them this time around in D.C. Former manager Fredi Gonzalez was fired on May 17 after a major league-worst 9-28 start to the season. Then Triple-A Gwinnett skipper Brian Snitker was promoted to take over the big league club. Since the promotion, the Braves have gone 34-44, and have actually gone 12-14 since the All-Star break, which is an improvement considering how they started the season. However, although they are 6-4 over their last 10 games, they still have a major league-worst 43-72 record.

At the trade deadline, the Braves acquired outfielder Matt Kemp from the Padres in exchange for infielder Hector Olivera. Overall this season, Kemp has hit 24 home runs with 74 RBIs while hitting for just a .257 average. He joins a lineup that ranks last in the majors in runs scored and is led by first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is slashing ..281/.371/.521 with 21 homers and 49 RBIs. Outfielder Nick Markakis has added a .274 /.348/.388 slash line with 62 RBIs, while third baseman Adonis Garcia has added some power with nine longballs and 39 RBIs.

Snitker will throw a trio of young right-handers on the mound this weekend, with Mike Foltynewicz starting tonight's opener. Foltynewicz is 5-5 with 4.37 ERA in 14 starts this season. He will display his 95 mph fastball and 85 mph slider in his first career start against the Nationals. Rookie Rob Whalen will start Saturday night's game with a 1-0 record and 5.73 ERA over his first two major league starts. He won his debut while giving up four runs and four hits in five innings against the Pirates on Aug. 3. Whalen then gave up just three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts over six innings on Monday in Milwaukee, taking the no-decision but the Braves taking the victory. Fellow rookie Tyrell Jenkins gets the ball for Sunday's series finale, with a 2-2 record and 3.92 ERA over 10 appearances (six starts) this season. Making his debut on June 22 out of the bullpen, Jenkins earned his first win on July 29 in a start against the Phillies. He gave up one unearned run and four hits over six innings.

With Arodys Vizcaino on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique injury and Chris Withrow joining him with right elbow inflammation, Jim Johnson has taken over the closer role and has recorded nine saves with a 3.61 ERA.

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