MLB: Hot pitchers match up for Braves, Nationals


Two pitchers trending in the right direction will oppose each other when the Atlanta Braves host the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series on Friday.

Atlanta’s Charlie Morton (4-3, 4.34 ERA) will face Washington’s Erick Fedde (5-5, 4.29) in a battle of veteran right-handers.

The Braves just took three of four games from the St. Louis Cardinals, losing the finale 3-2 in 11 innings on Thursday, and have won seven of 10. The Nationals have lost seven of their past eight and were beaten 5-3 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.

Atlanta is 4-2 against Washington this season, having swept a three-game series last month.

Morton has been impressive over his past four starts, posting a 1.35 ERA with 35 strikeouts. In his latest outing, against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed one hit and one walk while striking out 10.

“Charlie’s been good the last few times out,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s starting to get in his groove. That’s how I would characterize it. He feels good and confident and the ball has been coming out of his hand good the whole time.”

Morton has made 13 career starts against the Nationals, going 4-6 with a 5.23 ERA. He has not appeared against Washington this season.

Fedde is 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA over his past five starts, during which time opponents hit only .196 against him. He has a 2.12 ERA and a .140 opposition batting average over his past three starts. In his start against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, Fedde gave up two runs in six innings, allowing three hits and three walks while fanning six.

“What I did notice when he got to two strikes, he tried to hump up and throw that really nasty pitch,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “And I talked a little bit when he came out of the game just about not doing that, just stay within yourself and make a good pitch.

“Just make a good pitch, don’t try to make the turbo pitch, and you might get out of those situations in three or four pitches.”

Fedde has a horrible record against the Braves in nine appearances (eight starts): 0-5 with a 9.97 ERA. He faced the Braves on June 15 and took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks, with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

A Braves-Nationals series always shines the spotlight on the rivalry between young stars Ronald Acuna Jr. of Atlanta and Juan Soto of Washington.

Acuna had a rough series against St. Louis, going 2-for-17 and come up hitless in his last 13 at-bats. His last home run came on June 21 against the San Francisco Giants.

Soto, meanwhile, is heating up. He has reached base safely in 17 straight games and has consecutive multi-hit games for just the second time this season. After batting .224 through the end of June, Soto is hitting .429 (6-for-14) in July despite being slowed by a sore left calf.

Luis Garcia has been a big addition since the Nationals called him up from the minors on June 1. He is hitting .326 with 11 doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in 34 games. The shortstop is 14-for-39 (.359) over his past 11 games.

–Field Level Media



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