Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Strasburg-Freeman rivalry set for next chapter

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman both debuted in 2010 and have spent their entire careers in the National League East, so naturally they have squared off many times. In fact, no batter has faced Strasburg more than Freeman, and only three pitchers have faced Freeman more than Strasburg.
They'll see each other for the second time this season on Wednesday, when Strasburg starts against Matt Wisler and the Braves at Nationals Park. Atlanta will be trying to snap an 0-7 skid to start the season.
In 39 matchups between Freeman and Strasburg, Freeman has had the upper hand. He's hitting .387 in his career against Strasburg, with three home runs and nine RBIs. Of all the hitters to have faced Strasburg at least 20 times, Freeman is third in on-base percentage (.462), second in slugging (.742) and second in OPS (1.201). The 26-year-old lefty was especially dangerous against Strasburg last year, going 5-for-11 with four walks and two homers.
Freeman's Strasburg-bashing is part of a larger trend of success against the Nationals for the first baseman, who has hit .331/.393/.513 against Washington in his career.
After Tuesday night's 2-1 Washington win, Nationals manager Dusty Baker praised Freeman for his ability to hit to all fields, calling him "one of the most dangerous men in this league."
"Freddie can hit," Baker said. "You've got to figure out what he's trying to do. Sometimes he'll take you down the line. Sometimes he'll hit you to left field."
Strasburg won the most recent installment of the rivalry with Freeman, holding his nemesis 0-for-3 in a Nationals win, but the big first baseman will be lurking in the three-hole on Wednesday, hoping to exact revenge.
Things to know about this game
• Wisler has pitched more often against Washington than any other team in his brief Major League career, going 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five games, four of them starts. After allowing seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals on Sept. 3, he was briefly demoted to the bullpen. But only weeks later, on Sept. 29, Wisler started against the Nats again and ceded only five hits and one run over seven innings.
• Stephen Drew, who got his first hit with the Nationals on Tuesday, will start in place of Anthony Rendon on Wednesday, as Baker begins to rest starters amid a stretch of 15 games in as many days.
• The back end of the Nationals' bullpen has been busy the last few nights, and right-hander Blake Treinen will be unavailable Wednesday after pitching in three straight games.
• After Tuesday night's win, the Nationals have now beaten the Braves 12 straight times at Nationals Park. Washington is 18-5 overall against Atlanta since the start of 2015.

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