The visiting Atlanta Braves will go for a three-game sweep when they conclude their series with the Washington Nationals on Sunday
The Braves will look to get it done behind 24-year-old left-hander Jared Shuster, who will be making his major league debut
Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Shuster had a 3.29 ERA and 145 strikeouts across 139 1/3 innings between the Double-A and Triple-A levels last season. He earned his rotation spot by holding opponents to a .130 average and pitching to the tune of a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings during spring training.
Atlanta smacked four home runs in a 7-1 win on Saturday. Matt Olson went deep twice, and Ronald Acuna Jr. and Olson led off the game with back-to-back home runs against Nationals starter Josiah Gray
"Ronnie hitting the homer from the jump changes the whole dynamic of the game," Olson said. "I've been on the other side when that happens, and it can be deflating when you come out and somebody at the top of the order has power like that."
Olson hit eight home runs during spring training and appears to have carried that hot streak into the regular season.
Marcell Ozuna also homered on Saturday for Atlanta, which has outscored the Nationals 14-3 in the first two games of the series
"Sometimes, I get a little nervous before the game," Atlanta starter and winner Spencer Strider said. "Then, I look at our lineup and I feel a lot better. That's no offense to anybody else. But we've got a lineup I don't want to face."
Washington was again unable to cash in on the baserunners they managed to get against Atlanta pitching. The Nationals are now 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position through two games. With runs hard to come by, the team might be pressing
"I think anybody's guilty of that," Washington outfielder Lane Thomas said. "You want to do your job really bad for the team and the skipper. You've got to just take a breath and, hopefully, get a good pitch to hit, instead of trying so hard."
Keibert Ruiz broke up Saturday's shutout bid with a late home run and also had a single, and Thomas had two hits.
Washington outfielder Corey Dickerson left in the eighth inning with a left calf injury.
"We don't know what it is yet," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He's going to go get a scan (on Sunday), and we'll figure out what's going on.
Twenty-four-year-old left-hander MacKenzie Gore makes his Nationals debut in the series finale. Acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Juan Soto trade last season, Gore was on the injured list at the time due to left elbow inflammation. He made rehabilitation starts for the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A) but did not pitch for Washington
"Of course, we always get nervous," Gore said. "I try to stay pretty calm. But yeah, of course, I'll have some butterflies."
Gore went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) for the Padres in 2022. He went 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in spring training.
--Field Level Media