The Nats swept the White Sox. This is good, not only for the obvious "more wins > fewer wins", but because it kept them a single game behind the Braves. The Braves have had an easier schedule than the Nats but 8-1 is still impressive. If you twisted my arm I probably would have said Atlanta should be at 7-2 as well, but going series by series 8-1 also makes sense. Are the Marlins not an automatic sweep anywhere for any good team right now? Short of it is - both teams are good and playing like they should going into this series.
This isn't a make or break series. I've seen plenty of early season "disasters" turn into non-issues by the end of the year. The Braves and Nats play each other nearly 20 times so there is plenty of time to make up ground lost, either in other head to head games or just in general. That being said, neither team wants to be swept. You want to feel like you are competitive with your rival and a sweep that isn't full of one-run nail-biters can raise some doubts, be they legitimate or not. The Braves don't want to come in here 1 game up and leave 2 back and have the world saying what some Nats fans are right now - that their fast start was just a scheduling mirage. The Nats don't want to lose 3 on their home turf and find themselves 4 back already. They are better than the Braves, probably even 4 games better, but then they'd only have 150 games to show it, not 162. No one wants that Wild Card. Let's see how the match-ups break down.
Teheran v Detwiler
Hudson v Strasburg
Mahom v Gio
Detwiler is Detwiler. You guys like him more than I do. If he just gives up ground ball after ground ball its only a matter of time before 3-4 go through in the same inning, great D or not. Add in one big hit and there's your 4.00 ERA. Sure he gets the double plays but the DPs timings are a product of luck as much as skill "GB single, DP, GB single, GB single, out" is a scoreless inning. "GB single, GB single, GB single, DP, out" is a 2-run one. No difference in what happened, just the order. Detwiler will give up a run or two or three. Really this is about Teheran. He has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher but hasn't shown it yet. Why expect him to do it against the Nats lineup in DC? This one favors the Nats.
Hudson is a very good pitcher but last year he always seemed to have that one inning versus the Nats where it would fall apart. He could eventually contain it and go a few more but they always broke through? Bad luck? Maybe. Even if Hudson and Fredi can manage to keep the game close this comes down to Strasburg and Davey. Will Strasburg dominate? Will Davey let him go deep if he is? There's these unknowns on the Nats side that I don't like but I'll give them the edge until Hudson shows he can face the good Nats and not put up a middling performance.
The Braves in the past caused Gio fits. They are a patient team and Gio can get a bit wild. It's a different team now, but you'd have to think they haven't forgotten what works. Gio can still dominate them if he has his A stuff but I'm not feeling that. The White Sox always felt on the verge of getting to Gio and they are neither as patient or as good hitting as the Braves. Maholm on the other hand is nothing special BUT he does limit the long ball and dammit if that isn't where the Nats are getting their runs. I give the edge here to the Braves, April Gio and all.
HOT : Upton the Younger is hitting .381 with 3 homers and 3 doubles in the past week. Evan Gattis, Juan Francisco, Andrelton Simmons, & Chris Johnson are also hitting over .300, with varying degrees of power. The ATL bench players, Laird, Schafer, Pena, are 9/18. The Nats catcher tandem is hot 7-21 with 3 homers in the past 7 days. LaRoche seems to be back on track with four hits in the last 3 days. Desmond, Werth, and Bryce are all hitting over .350 in the past week. Span is getting on base at a .450+ clip.
NOT : Upton the Elder has little more than that big HR recently. Heyward only has gotten a hit in the 2nd game of the year. Zimmerman had that big double last night but that's about it The Nats bench has 1 hit in limited at bats.