Gio Gonzalez gets the start Friday. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — After shuffling a few regulars in and out of the lineup over the past three days in Pittsburgh in an effort to keep everyone fresh, the Washington Nationals will begin the final leg of their six-game road trip against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night with their usual starting eight.

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will toe the rubber for the Nationals, and they’re depending on him to eat innings due to their exhausted bullpen. Blake Treinen pitched in each of the three games against the Pirates so he’s probably not available Friday. Oliver Perez, Enny Romero and Matt Albers each appeared in two games. Matt Grace only pitched in one, but he tossed 30 pitches for Class AAA Syracuse on Tuesday before logging his inning Wednesday.

As a result, Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are the Nationals’ only rested relievers. That isn’t ideal for a bullpen that’s had more than its share of problems even when fresh. Things could be exacerbated if Gonzalez continues issuing walks at his recent pace. He’s issued at least three walks in each of his last six starts — he’s made eight this season — with a high of seven. He’s still managed to pitch at least six innings in five of those six outings, but the formula likely isn’t sustainable.

“It happens,” Manager Dusty Baker said. “Every start is not the same. Every at-bat is not the same. And you just kind of have to have it play out. And, shoot, I don’t know why walks are up. As long as he can make quality pitches to get out of it. I’d rather him not be in that situation, but Gio’s fine. He’s been pitching good.”

The Nationals also had some rare trouble scoring runs in Pittsburgh, tallying just five runs in their last two games. They’ll try to get back on track against an unusual look Friday, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is sporting a 4.22 ERA. Baker has a strategy against knuckleballers.

“Hope he throws you a fastball,” he said.


Trea Turner SS
Jayson Werth LF
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Matt Wieters C
Michael A. Taylor CF
Gio Gonzalez LHP

Ender Inciarte CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Matt Kemp LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Johan Camargo 3B
Jace Peterson 1B
Dansby Swanson SS
R.A. Dickey RHP