The Atlanta Braves split their four-game set with the Washington Nationals. This means the Braves neither lost ground nor gained any ground on their NL East rival, keeping their NL East lead at 6.5 games.
It was a back and forth series for the Braves. The Washington Nationals were able to knock a game off the lead in the first game before losing that gain in the next game when the Braves took the second game of the series. Washington was able to take another game before the Braves won the series finale to split the series 2-2. In a series where the Braves could have lost a lot of ground, the team was able to show a lot of resilience in the face of a challenge.
Kevin Gausman showed back up from his stint on the IL to pitch a gem in the last game. In a time when the Braves starting pitching has looked sparse and thin, Gausman stepped up in a big way. In his first start back, Gausman went 7 innings throwing 8 strikeouts and no walks. Gausman looked more like the pitcher that showed up last season, going 5-3 with an ERA under 3. The Braves would welcome back that Kevin Gausman with open arms.
Josh Donaldson stayed hot in the four-game set with the Nationals. It’s a good sign for the Braves offense if Donaldson stays producing. It wasn’t just Donaldson, however. Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Brian McCann, and Ozzie Albies were all big contributors in the Braves wins. The Braves offense has slowed down from their torrid pace, mainly Austin Riley, but this team continues to find ways to score runs.
Splitting with the Nationals is a good, not great, result. The Braves did avoid Max Scherzer, who is still on the IL. Running up against Scherzer could have tilted this series in favor of the Nationals very easily. The Braves should be happy to get out of this four-game set still holding onto a 6.5 game lead.
Next up for the Braves is a two-game set with the Kansas City Royals at home before going on the road to Philadelphia and Washington. The two-game set with the Royals will be a good chance for the Braves to get back in a groove before hitting the road again. The two series following the Royals will be important for the jockeying of the NL East. The Braves could lay an egg to finish July, and now August is going to be a fight to the finish. As of now, the Braves are in a good spot moving forward.