Nationals, Braves to play rubber game of series

MLB

A pair of former first-round draft choices will square off on the mound when the visiting Washington Nationals meet the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday.

The Nationals send Erick Fedde (1-1, 2.55 ERA) against Atlanta’s Kyle Wright (0-3, 7.20).

Fedde was the team’s top choice in 2014, the 18th overall pick out of UNLV. Wright, who played at Vanderbilt, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

The Nationals evened the three-game series on Tuesday with an 8-5 win. The Nationals are 5-4 on their current 10-game road trip, which concludes Wednesday.

Fedde will make his third start. In his last appearance on Aug. 14 against Baltimore, Fedde entered with two outs in the first inning when Stephen Strasburg left the game with carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand. Fedde threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits and two walks to pick up the win.

“I knew Stras might not be feeling his best, so it’s a little easier going in mentally prepared for it,” Fedde said. “When you get that opportunity, I’m trying to be efficient, help the guys out in the bullpen, and get as far down as I could.”

Fedde has made two career appearances against the Braves, one a start, and is 0-1 with a 22.24 ERA.

Wright continues to seek his first career win. The Braves are looking for the right-hander to pitch deeper into games and put less stress on the bullpen.

In four starts this year, Wright has pitched past the fourth inning only one time, that a six-inning stint at Philadelphia on Aug. 8. In his most recent start on Aug. 14 at Miami, he was able to get through just three innings.

Wright’s main issue has been the lack of control. In 15 innings this season, he has given up 17 hits and 16 walks.

“Obviously, we’re not stretching our starts really well,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s not a healthy formula. We’ve done really, really well with it, done a great job with the bullpen, but it’s not a healthy formula. You need your starting pitching to shoulder most of the workload, and we’re not doing a good job of that right now.”

The Atlanta offense took a hit on Tuesday when right fielder Nick Markakis was placed on the injured list as a precautionary move. The veteran was potentially exposed to COVID-19, although he has not tested positive.

Markakis originally opted out of the season because of COVID-19 fears, but changed his mind and returned. He was activated on July 29 and was hitting .353 in 11 games since his return. He had a pair of doubles on Monday, giving him 505 for his career – one short of Babe Ruth for No. 58 on the all-time list.

The Braves replaced Markakis on the roster with Christian Pache, the team’s top-rated prospect. Pache batted .277 with 12 homers while splitting time in Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.

Washington left fielder Juan Soto continues to hit at a torrid pace. Soto was 2-for-4 with a walk, scored a run and drove in a run in Tuesday’s win. Over the last nine games, Soto is batting .441 (15-for-34) with a double, six homers, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored.

Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson has a six-game hitting streak and is batting .429 (12-for-28) during that stretch.

–Field Level media

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