Freddie Freeman seemingly hits a lot of pitchers well, but he certainly causes some restless sleep for Washington Nationals star Stephen Strasburg. Freeman is a sizzling 14-for-35 with four home runs, three doubles and 13 RBIs against Strasburg and looks to continue his success when the Atlanta Braves finish a three-game series versus visiting Washington on Thursday.
Freeman hit his sixth homer of the season in Atlanta’s 14-4 loss in the opener and is a scorching 8-for-9 with three blasts over his last three games to raise his average to a major league-leading .440. Washington’s Bryce Harper is just as hot as he belted two homers (including a grand slam) and drove in five runs on Wednesday and is 9-for-12 with four shots and 10 RBIs over his last three contests. Ryan Zimmerman also slugged a grand slam as the Nationals racked up 20 hits while winning their third straight contest and sixth in eight games. The Braves’ two losses to Washington occurred after they won their first four games at the recently opened SunTrust Park.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MASN2 (Washington), FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Braves RH R.A. Dickey (1-1, 3.86)
Strasburg has experienced mixed results against the Braves, compiling an 8-8 record and 3.85 ERA in 23 career starts. The 28-year-old defeated Miami in his first start of the season before failing to record a decision in back-to-back turns against Philadelphia. Strasburg went 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 road starts last season, including a victory in his final outing at Turner Field - Atlanta’s former ballpark.
Dickey defeated San Diego in his last outing, when he allowed two runs (both on solo homers) and seven hits over six innings. The 42-year-old is 4-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 16 career appearances (14 starts) against the Nationals but has faced them just once (a loss in 2015) over the last four-plus seasons. Dickey has fanned Harper (4-for-17) seven times but has struggled with Jayson Werth (13-for-27, two homers, three doubles).
1. The Nationals are 30-9 against the Braves since the start of the 2015 season.
2. Werth (groin) departed Wednesday’s game and his status for Thursday is uncertain.
3. Atlanta LF Matt Kemp (hamstring) played seven innings during a rehab stint on Wednesday and will rejoin the team for Thursday’s finale.
PREDICTION: Nationals 7, Braves 3