Juan Soto’s availability in question as Nats visit Braves

National Sports

The Washington Nationals may be without standout right fielder Juan Soto on Friday when they open a three-game series against the host Atlanta Braves.

Soto tweaked his knee while running the bases in the ninth inning of Thursday’s 7-6 loss against Philadelphia. He underwent medical tests afterwards.

“He said he felt something in his knee,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ll know more Friday.”

Soto is batting .298 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs in 99 games. He led the National League with a .351 batting average in 2020. Soto missed 11 games in April with a right shoulder strain.

The Braves are coming off a three-game sweep over St. Louis and improved to one game over .500 for the first time all season. Atlanta trails New York by 1 1/2 games in the NL East.

Washington, which sold off high-priced assets like Max Scherzer and Trae Turner at the trade deadline, has lost four straight and is 11 under .500.

The Braves have won seven of 10 games against Washington this season.

Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde (4-7, 5.01 ERA) and Braves rookie left-hander Kyle Muller (2-3, 2.43) will square off in the opener.

Fedde is looking for his first win since June 12, when he beat San Francisco. He has lost three straight and received no decision in his last start against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 1, when he pitched six innings and allowed three runs.

Fedde has made six career appearances, five starts, against Atlanta, going 0-3 with a 12.86 ERA. He has faced the Braves twice this season, going 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.

Muller will be making his eighth appearance; he has not allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts. In his last appearance on July 31 against Milwaukee, Muller gave up one run in five innings. The Braves are trying to protect Muller; his longest stint has been 5 2/3 innings and he’s averaging 75 pitches per start. Muller has never faced Washington.

“He’s going to be a low pitch-count guy,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He never gives in. He keeps coming back in counts. He’s taken some huge steps forward and really competes. I like everything he’s doing.”

Atlanta’s offense has been led by Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman. Since the All-Star Game, Riley has nine home runs and 23 RBIs. Freeman has hits in 30 of his last 37 games, batting .387 (55-for-142) during that stretch.

Washington’s hottest hitter has been Carter Kieboom, who is hitting .423 (11-for-27) with a double, two homers, six RBIs, four walks and six runs scored over his last eight games. Over his last 14 games, Yadiel Hernandez is hitting .484 (16-for-33) with three doubles, two homers, nine RBIs, three walks and eight runs scored.

Josh Bell, who hit a three-run homer on Thursday, has seven homers in 63 plate appearances over his last 17 games. Seven of his 15 hits during that span have been home runs.

Washington reliever Ryne Harper has inherited 10 runs over his 16 outings and allowed just one to score. He is one of five National League relievers to have inherited 10 or more runners and allowed one or none to score.

–Field Level Media

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