Strasburg & Nationals Tangle With Atlanta Braves

By: Michael Robinson | Monday, August 20, 2012

Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is on borrowed time for the 2012 season. He faces the division rival Atlanta Braves in a huge contest on Tuesday night.

The Don Best odds screen has Strasburg as a 165 home favorite with a total of seven runs. Red-hot lefty Paul Maholm will oppose him and the first pitch will come at 7:10 p.m. (ET) from the nation’s capital.

Washington (75-46) has the best record in baseball at almost 30 games above .500, leading Atlanta (70-51) by 5-games in the NL East. The Braves were on a great 18-5 streak before Dodgers’ pitching shut them down the last two games (6-2, 5-0) at home.

Note all of these marks are pending the Monday night series opener. It was another great pitching duel of Tim Hudson against Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats were 135-140 ‘chalk’ with a total of seven.

Strasburg (14-5, 2.91 ERA) is a huge national story as management is likely going to shut him down the rest of the season after a few more starts because of previous Tommy John surgery. The debate even made the non-sports national media on MSNBC.

The 24-year-old fireballer isn’t showing any signs of fatigue in three August starts (3-0, 1.50 ERA). He did walk four batters over six innings in each of his last two outings at Arizona and San Francisco, but his ability to strike out guys (11.18 rate this year) allows him to get out of jams.

Strasburg has actually been more hittable at Nationals Park (3.47 ERA) this year with three consecutive team losses ended in a 4-1 home win over Miami on August 5.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.87 ERA in four starts against the Braves this season.  Washington split the two home games with Strasburg (combined 2.92 ERA) having both a great (seven shutout innings) and mediocre (four earned over 5 1/3 innings) performance.

Maholm (11-7, 3.39 ERA) has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball since late June. He has a tiny 1.19 ERA in 10 appearances since, starting nine of those with his teams going 8-1.  The ‘under’ is 6-0 in his last six starts overall and 8-1 in the last nine.

The last three starts came after a trade deadline acquisition from Chicago. Maholm is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA with Atlanta, proving to be a great value so far.

The 30-year-old lefty hasn’t pitched against Washington this year. He is 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA in three lifetime starts at Washington while pitching for Pittsburgh, although two were quality starts.

These teams have split the six meetings in Washington this year, with the Nationals dominating 5-1 in the six games in Atlanta.

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