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Sep 21, 2022 1:53 am

Playoff-bound Braves seek sweep of Nationals

The Atlanta Braves, who have now clinched a postseason spot, will try to keep pace in the National League East on Wednesday when they go for a three-game sweep against the visiting Washington Nationals.

The Braves earned a place in the playoffs for the fifth straight year when they defeated the Nationals 3-2 and the New York Mets came from behind to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5. The Braves remain a game behind the Mets in the division race.

Atlanta (93-55) has won 10 straight games at home, the longest streak since they set the modern-era club record of 13 straight in 2019. The Braves have won five straight and have won 12 of 15 games against the Nationals (51-97) this season.

The Braves will start rookie right-hander Bryce Elder (1-3, 3.67), while the Nationals will turn to veteran right-hander Paolo Espino (0-7, 4.24).

Elder slipped into the rotation after rookie Spencer Strider was sidelined with a sore oblique. Max Fried had been scheduled to start Wednesday, but the Braves will push him to Thursday for the opener of the four-game series in Philadelphia.

Elder has spent the season bouncing up and down between Atlanta and Triple-A Gwinnett. He has made seven appearances, six starts, for the Braves. Elder has struck out 30 and walked 19 in 34 1/3 innings for Atlanta. In 18 appearances with Gwinnett, Elder went 6-5 with a 4.46 ERA.

“He’s not going to miss much (in Triple-A) by coming up here right now,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s had a full year and he’s been consistent. So I don’t have any problem with him coming up and coming out of the bullpen, because their season is almost over anyway.”

Elder’s last big-league start came Sept. 3 against Miami. He threw six scoreless innings and allowed two hits, two walks and six strikeouts, but did not receive a decision.

His only career appearance against Washington came on April 12, when he got the win after working 5 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits.

The Nationals will start Espino, who was in the rotation until earlier this month. He has made 39 appearances, 16 of them starts. Espino has pitched three games against the Braves this season, starting twice, and is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA.

In 10 career appearances against Atlanta, four of them starts, Espino is 0-2 with a 5.72 ERA.

“We’ll go with Paolo, and the guys who didn’t pitch on Tuesday will have to be ready,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully Paolo will give us four or five innings, and we’ll see what happens.”

The Nats are essentially using a bullpen approach for the second straight night after Tuesday starter Patrick Corbin left the game with back spasms in the first inning. Erasmo Ramirez covered three innings, and Washington used three other relievers to complete the game.

Washington’s Cesar Hernandez had a hit and walk on Tuesday and has reached base in 16 straight games. Luis Garcia had a single and has reached in 21 of his last 23 games.

–Field Level Media

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