After flexing their offensive muscle in a three-game sweep in Boston, the Atlanta Braves will get another piece of their lineup back on Friday when outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. returns from a hamstring issue, just in time to start a four-game series in Washington.
Acuna is batting .266 with five homers, but hasn’t played since leaving Sunday’s game against Philadelphia in the second inning. He missed two weeks earlier this season because of left wrist inflammation.
The series begins with doubleheader of two seven-inning games on Friday, to make up for an Aug. 19 rainout. The first game matches Atlanta’s Tommy Milone (1-4, 5.68) against Washington’s Austin Voth (0-4, 7.99). The Braves will send veteran Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.37) in the nightcap against the Nationals’ Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.91).
Atlanta brings a four-game winning streak into the series and has won eight of its last 11. The defending world champion Nationals have been struggling. They have lost six straight and are 1-9 over the last 10 games. First-place Atlanta leads Washington by 9 1/2 games in the East.
The two clubs have split their only two meetings this season.
“The window of opportunity is closing, but I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on these guys,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
Milone was added to the team at the trade deadline in an attempt to strengthen the Atlanta rotation. The Braves gave up a pair of players to be named later to Baltimore to acquire the veteran left-hander.
Milone’s first appearance for the Braves was not a success. Milone rushed to the park to make a start against Philadelphia on Aug. 30. He was a spotted a 10-0 lead in the second inning and frittered most of it away, surrendering seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
“Supposed to do my job and it didn’t work out today. Not chalking it up to the kind of whirlwind day it was, I just didn’t get the job done,” Milone said.
Despite the rough debut, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker is ready to see Milone get another start.
“He’s a strike thrower. He’s a guy who’s been through the wars. We’ve got good catchers, we’re a good defensive team and that’s going to help a guy like that who’s a strike thrower,” Snitker said. “Putting him on our club may be very beneficial for us.”
Tomlin was asked to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation on Aug. 18 against Washington and he responded by allowing two runs in four innings. In 11 1/3 innings as a starter, Tomlin has a 7.15 ERA. In nine career appearances (two starts) against Washington, Tomlin is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA.
Voth managed to get through only two innings in his most recent start on Aug. 30 against Boston. He allowed five runs in the 9-5 loss. It was the third consecutive start in which he has allowed at least five runs. One of those came on Aug. 18 at Atlanta (five runs and nine hits allowed in four innings in no-decision), his only appearance against the Braves this season.
Crowe made his major league debut against the Miami Marlins on Aug. 22 and took the loss. He threw 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs, two earned. Crowe was the team’s second-round draft pick in 2017.
–Field Level Media