For the second day in a row, a Washington Nationals pitcher had the Atlanta Braves number for eight solid innings. This one came courtesy of Dan Haren–who until tonight has been pretty awful.
Aside from a Dan Uggla solo home run in the seventh however, Haren had no problems, giving up just four hits and one walk to four strikeouts. Evan Gattis, Freddie Freeman, Reed Johnson, and Uggla were the only Braves to record hits.
Kris Medlen pitched a good game, and arguably should only have 1 earned run allowed after the scorekeeper changed a Chris Johnson error into a Denard Span hit. He went seven innings while striking out seven, walking three, and allowing seven hits. By all means, a good start. He didn’t look as sharp as he could be early on, but settled in after that.
Brian McCann‘s return could prove to be extremely important to the team, as the offense has been struggling of late. Justin Upton can’t possibly carry the team the whole year, and Chris Johnson’s streak of fortune looks to be about over–before the game, Johnson led all major league hitters with a .460 BABIP. There is no way that holds up.
Freddie Freeman coming back should help, and Jason Heyward shouldn’t be out too much longer which is good. However, a healthy McCann will do wonders for the team. He has been as consistent a hitter as any in previous years, and if that is what we get when he returns, fantastic.
One issue that is starting to be an issue is the top of the lineup. It has been terrible so far this season, and the Braves clearly don’t have a legitimate lead off hitter–which makes Denard Span even more annoying to watch. Jason Heyward getting back, and actually producing will be key, as production in the two-hole is clearly better than nothing in the one or two spot.
I honestly don’t know what should be done about the lead off spot. Fredi isn’t going to put Uggla there–which has been an interesting idea from some of the advanced stat guys–and the combination of B.J Upton/Andrelton Simmons hasn’t been working either. Fortunately I am not the guy who has to make those decisions.
We will just have to sit back and see what happens.
The Braves start a three-game series against the Mets tomorrow. Be sure to check back, as Brad will have a preview of the series up.