Drew Smyly, Braves aim to keep dominating Nationals

MLB

Considering how well Drew Smyly has pitched at Washington this season, the Atlanta Braves left-hander appears in good shape to match his career high for wins.

Looking to accomplish that feat and continue his recent undefeated run, Smyly will try to help the surging Braves extend their season-high road winning streak to seven games with a series sweep of the reeling Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The 32-year-old, well-traveled Smyly (8-3, 4.41 ERA) has remained a pleasant surprise for Atlanta, an N.L. East title contender that has won nine of 11, this season. He has posted at least 20 starts for the fourth time in his career, and is 6-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 12 outings since losing a decision at Boston on May 26.

Smyly allowed only a two-run homer and one other hit while walking two and striking out seven over six innings of Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Cincinnati. That result left him one win shy of his career best set in 2014, when he split the season between Detroit and Tampa Bay.

“(Smyly) has been really good for us,” teammate Dansby Swanson told the Braves’ official website. “It feels like we’ve won a lot of games that he has pitched.”

Twelve of his 20 starts to be exact, and one in three outings this season versus Washington. Smyly is 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA against the Nationals in 2021, with that victory coming at Washington, where in two starts there, he’s allowed two earned runs, eight hits, walked five and fanned 12 over 12 innings.

Smyly likely would appreciate Swanson staying hot in this series finale.

The Atlanta shortstop homered twice and drove in six runs during Saturday’s 12-2 rout of Washington, which has dropped six straight and 11 of 12. Swanson has hit three of his career-best 23 homers in the last two games and is batting .384 with 21 RBIs over his last 19 contests.

Teammate Ozzie Albies has homered in a career-high four straight games while driving in eight runs over that span. Though a small sample size, Albies and Swanson are a combined 0-for-3 against scheduled Washington starter Paolo Espino (3-3, 3.74 ERA).

Slated to make his 11th start of the season for the Nationals, the right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.92 ERA as a starter, and has a 3.18 ERA in seven outings at home.

This will be his first career start against the Braves. However, he’s not yielded a hit or walk while striking out four in five innings of relief over four relief outings versus Atlanta this season.

Washington has lost seven in a row at home to the Braves, and six straight overall there.

“We’ve got to stay positive, keep our heads up and keep pushing forward,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.

Victor Robles has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals of late, batting .321 in his last seven games. Meanwhile, Nationals star Juan Soto’s only hit in eight career at-bats against Smyly left the park.

–Field Level Media

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