Mar 14, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher David Hale (57) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals preview: Hello, David Hale


Update #2: The Braves lineup is out!

Update: The Nationals have announced that Jordan Zimmermann will make the start. Here is their full lineup.

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After a day off (way too soon!) following a series victory in Milwaukee, the Atlanta Braves take on a different challenge in the nation’s capital this weekend. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals are widely considered to be the “favorites” in the National League East, and this early season face-off provides a unique opportunity for the Braves to perhaps get a leg up in the race.

As far as the particulars for Friday’s opener are concerned, this one is headlined by the 2014 debut of David Hale. The 26-year-old Hale was utterly fantastic in two starts near the end of last season (0.82 ERA in 11 innings), but his production this Spring was ugly (17.2 innings, 6.62 ERA) and it’s tough to distinguish what to expect from him. Fredi Gonzalez thought enough of Hale to give him the rotation nod to begin the season, but when the chief competition was rookie Gus Schlosser, I’m not sure that is a significant accomplishment. It will be highly interesting to see how Hale performs under the big lights.

Offensively, the Braves have been solid (with the exception of anyone named Upton) through 3 games, and while the Nats have a formidable rotation in place, they have a bit of turmoil in terms of who is taking the mound. Stud right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was scratched from Thursday’s start with flu-like symptoms, moving Friday’s scheduled starter Tanner Roark into that position, and now, there is no definite word on who will start. If it is Zimmermann at full strength, that is a nightmare for the Braves, as he has posted three straight seasons with a 3.25 ERA or lower, but if he can’t go, it could be a full-on bullpen game led by someone like Craig Stammen at the outset. Stay tuned.

Here is a look at the particulars for Friday afternoon:

Date: April 4, 2014

Start Time: 1:05 p.m.

TV Channel: SportSouth

Radio: 680 AM/106.7 FM (Local in Atlanta), Full list of Local Affiliates

Live Stream: MLB.tv (Click Here, $)

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@ATLBeatBlog) for more information, and check back after the game for a full recap. Sound off in the comments!

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