The Nationals kick off a six-game road trip with three games in Atlanta. The Nationals are 7-15 against Atlanta since the start of the 2013 season. The Nationals lost six of ten games at Turner Field last season. The Braves will face right-hander Tanner Roark, who hasn’t allowed a run and struck out 12 batters in 13 career innings against the Braves. Roark is also coming off a long stretch in which he didn’t appear in a game. He last started on April 3 in New York but because of offdays and the shuffling of the rotation hasn’t pitched since.
Before the game, Manager Matt Williams explained why he removed Ryan Zimmerman from Thursday’s game. With a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Williams used a double switch to get reliever Jerry Blevins and second baseman Danny Espinosa into the game. Zimmerman, who has modified his throwing because of his shoulder issues, came out and Rendon shifted to third base. Williams insisted it wasn’t done to improve the defense but simply because the bullpen was worn and Blevins would be needed for more than one inning.
“I wouldn’t want to ever take him out of a game,” Williams said. “He’s too powerful and too good a player to do that. But yesterday we had no choice. Because we just didn’t have anybody else to go out for the following inning. I mean, we could’ve, but we didn’t want to. And the matchups that were coming up were good for [Blevins], so we thought that would be the spot to do it. But to be perfectly clear, I don’t want to take him out of a game.”
The lineups are here. As always, discuss the game here.