The Jolly Life with Washington at Atlanta

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September is a time when the leaves start to change colors and fall off of the trees in order to make way for the new growth that will be coming in the Spring. Weather tends to turn from hot and muggy, to a colder and more frigid state.

This is a perfect example of what happens in baseball as well.

Certain teams start to fall off and look at the younger talent they have in order to prepare for next year’s spring training, while others go in to full battle mode to prepare for the post season.

Teams tend to lose hot streaks as well, as the post season is normally a fight to the bitter end.

Prepare yourself for the start of some really good baseball to finish off the month.

Two of the top teams in the National League East will be facing off against each other on Friday night at SunTrust Park in Atlanta as the Washington Nationals face the division leading Atlanta Braves.

Prior to Thursday’s games, the Nationals are a half game back from the second place Phillies, and eight games back from the Braves in the NL East. For a NL wild card spot, they are only seven games out, meaning this will be a very important series for both teams.

Washington will be sending out Max Scherzer. Scherzer holds a 17-6 record with a 2.31 ERA. He has a 2.25 ERA in his last seven games, 2.04 ERA on the road, and a 2.19 ERA at night. Atlanta has batted a .217 average against him this season. As a team, the Nationals have a .252 batting average with them scoring an average of 4.68 runs per game. Nationals bullpen holds a 3.90 ERA.

Atlanta will be sending out Kevin Gausman. Gausman holds a 9-10 record with a 3.81 ERA. He has a 2.32 ERA in his last seven games, 4.46 ERA at home, and a 3.57 ERA at night. Washington is batting .211 off of him this season. As a team, the Braves are scoring 4.73 runs per game and batting a .260 average. Their bullpen has as 4.04 ERA.

When it comes to overall team records, these two teams are very similar. Again — prior to Thursday’s games — both teams have won their past 5 games and are 6-4 in the last 10 games. Washington is 37-36 on the road, while Atlanta is 37-34 at home. They have played a total of 16 games against each other this year and Atlanta has a slight lead with their nine wins to Washington’s seven.

What this means is that, while Atlanta has a slight advantage in offense and having home field, Washington is sending out the better pitcher. Gausman may seem to have a good ERA against the Nationals this season, but he has only given them 19 at bats. Scherzer has given the Braves 109 at bats and still holds them to a measly .217 batting average. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the total clear the 7.5 runs that oddsmakers have given the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington walk away with this win.

Washington has been fighting and overcoming lately, and I expect it to continue. Atlanta is a good team and has a lot of talent, but I do not see them holding up to the Nationals’ drive at the moment. Did I mention Bryce Harper is hitting .429 against Gausman and five homeruns against the Braves this year? Oh yeah, and don’t forget to consider the over 7.5 runs!

The Jolly Life Recommends: Washington Nationals ML (-150 odds)