In the first three games of the Nationals’ nine-game road trip, Washington’s Juan Soto is starting to look like himself. The outfielder, who missed 11 games from April 20 to May 4 with a left shoulder strain, has come to life at the plate against the Atlanta Braves.
Soto and the visiting Nationals will try to make it three straight wins when they complete a four-game series on Thursday afternoon in Atlanta.
Soto was 1-for-3 with his sixth homer, a two-run shot, on Wednesday night. In the three games against the Braves, Soto is 5-for-9 with two homers, six RBIs, four walks and six runs scored.
“He’s starting to swing the ball well,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s getting the ball in the air. He’s staying consistent. … I’m just watching where his contact point is, and it’s right where it needs to be. I hope he stays that way. He’s in a good spot.”
As Soto is rounding into shape, the Braves continue to struggle to return to the form that produced three consecutive division titles. Manager Brian Snitker continues to preach patience.
“It’s never easy,” Snitker said. “I’ve been through this many times and you’ve got to hang in and handle it and it’s not easy to do. We’re a better club than what our results are.”
The final game of the series will match Atlanta left-hander Tucker Davidson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) against Washington lefty Patrick Corbin (3-4, 6.23). The Braves originally planned to start Ian Anderson, but opted to move all the starters back a day and recall Davidson from Triple-A Gwinnett to make the start. Anderson will now open the series against Los Angeles on Friday.
Davidson will make his second start. He pitched six solid innings on May 18 against the New York Mets and allowed three runs on five hits. Davidson is 2-1 with a 0.90 in three starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. He has never faced the Nationals.
Corbin will make his 11th start. He lost his most recent outing on May 29 against Milwaukee when he gave up four runs in five innings.
Corbin is 6-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 career appearances, 12 starts, against Atlanta. He is 1-3 with a 3.81 ERA in five starts against the Braves since joining the Nationals, giving up two or fewer earned runs in four of those games. He has not faced Atlanta this season.
The Nationals placed Stephen Strasburg on the injured list with a strained neck and recalled reliever Kyle McGowin, who was traveling with the team as a member of the taxi squad. Martinez was not ready to speculate on how the move will affect the starting rotation or whether the team will accelerate the return of Erick Fedde, who has been on the COVID injured list since May 19.
“I don’t want to mess with Fedde,” Martinez said. “We want him to get his innings in and wait and see what happens. We’ll stick with the plan. We don’t want him getting hurt.”
Fedde has a rehab start scheduled for Thursday.
Nationals outfielder Kyle Schwarber left Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning when his left knee locked up while running down a double. Schwarber will be treated and evaluated.
–Field Level Media