While the Braves will send their ace to the mound Thursday afternoon in Washington, the Nationals will start ... well they don't quite know.
Ideally, Stephen Strasburg will feel well enough to take the hill against Atlanta's Julio Teheran after being scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday with an illness.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday that Strasburg was already feeling better than he did earlier in the week and would hopefully be ready to go Thursday. And if not, Baker said, "then we'll come up with another solution."
If needed, that solution will likely involve long reliever Yusmeiro Petit, who has pitched only two innings so far this year. Though Petit made just one start compared to 41 relief outings for the Giants last season, he has experience as a swingman, having started 12 games in 2014 against 27 appearances out of the bullpen.
"That's why we got him," Baker said of Petit. "He'll spot start and be a long man. That's what he did for the Giants so well."
Whoever starts for Washington on Thursday will face the best Atlanta has to offer. Teheran pitched well against the Nationals on Opening Day, allowing two runs in six innings before scuffling in his follow-up start against the Cardinals. He was an All-Star in 2014, when he posted a 2.89 ERA and struck out 186 batters, but struggled to a 4.04 ERA in '15.
Things to know about this game
• Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper has hit Teheran hard throughout his career, hitting .440/.533/1.040 with four home runs against the righty in 30 plate appearances. Left fielder Jayson Werth, on the other hand, has hit only .172/.235/.172 against Teheran.
• With Hector Olivera on the restricted list, infielder Daniel Castro is back on the Braves' active roster. Castro could see some time at shortstop for Atlanta, as Erick Aybar has struggled defensively so far.
• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has excellent career numbers vs. Strasburg, hitting .387 with three home runs and a 1.203 OPS in 39 career at-bats against the All-Star. Like the rest of the Braves' roster, Freeman has limited experience facing Petit, having struck out in their only meeting.