Opening Day FAQ: Braves vs. Nationals
The Braves and Nationals jump right into division action on Opening Day, as the National League East opponents begin the 2023 season on Thursday at Nationals Park.
The Braves arrive in Washington, D.C., coming off a 101-61 record in the 2022 regular season. After finishing first in the division, they were eliminated by the Phillies, 3-1, in the NL Division Series. The Nationals overhauled their roster by trading Juan Soto to the Padres in August, and they finished the season 55-107, the most losses in the league.
These teams will face off 13 times throughout the season: March 30, April 1-2 in Washington; June 9-11 in Atlanta; Sept. 21-24 in Washington; Sept. 29-30, Oct. 1 in Atlanta.
The Braves won the matchup in 2022 by 14-5.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
First pitch is Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on MLB Network, Bally Sports Southeast and MASN.
What are the lineups?
Ronald Acuña Jr., RF
Matt Olson, 1B
Austin Riley, 3B
Ozzie Albies, 2B
Sean Murphy, C
Marcell Ozuna, LF
Michael Harris II, CF
Travis d'Arnaud, DH
Orlando Arcia, SS
Lane Thomas, RF
Joey Meneses, DH
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Dominic Smith, 1B
Keibert Ruiz, C
Alex Call, LF
Luis García, 2B
Victor Robles, CF
CJ Abrams, SS
Who are the starting pitchers?
Braves: LHP Max Fried
Fried will make his third Opening Day start, as he begins his bid to improve on a season that resulted in a second-place National League Cy Young Award finish in 2022. The lefty has posted the third-best ERA (2.68) and produced the seventh-best fWAR (10.2) among all qualified MLB pitchers since the start of '20.
Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin
Corbin will get the ball for his second Opening Day start with the Nationals (and the third in his career). He is eyeing a bounce-back performance after going 15-35 with a combined 6.05 ERA over the past two years. Corbin looked sharper in camp, posting a 4.50 ERA and 15 strikeouts on 21 hits and two walks across 18 innings (five starts).
How might the bullpens line up after the starter?
With closer Raisel Iglesias on the injured list, A.J. Minter will likely be used as the ninth-inning guy. Kirby Yates, Nick Anderson, Joe Jiménez and Collin McHugh could be the top high-leverage options. Meanwhile, Dylan Lee is more than a situational lefty, and he can be used at any point during the middle innings.
The bullpen was one of the biggest question marks in Spring Training, and it is not expected to be finalized until the Opening Day roster is announced. What is known is the back-end of the 'pen from last year -- Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey and Erasmo Ramírez -- is returning, looking to repeat another efficient performance.
Any injuries of note?
Iglesias (right shoulder) and Kyle Wright will both begin the year on the injured list. Wright needs to make up for the time he lost in January, when he rested for three weeks after receiving a cortisone injection.
The starting rotation is without Stephen Strasburg (sidelined with a nerve issue related to recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) and Cade Cavalli (Tommy John surgery). Closer Tanner Rainey (Tommy John surgery) and reliever Sean Doolittle (internal brace surgery recovery) will join the team for Opening Day before heading back to the Nats' training complex in Florida, where they are rehabbing along with Carter Kieboom (Tommy John surgery) and Víctor Arano (right shoulder impingement).
Who’s hot and who’s not?
Matt Olson hit .426 with eight homers and a 1.509 OPS over 55 Grapefruit League plate appearances. All-Star catcher Travis d'Arnaud produced a .475 OPS in 33 plate appearances.
Victor Robles, who batted .224 last season, made adjustments at the plate to hit .319 in 18 Spring Training games. Alex Call stood out on both sides of the field, including a .321 batting average in 23 contests. Lane Thomas hit .184 in 18 games.
Anything else fans might want to know?
The Nationals will hold a pregame ceremony to honor founding principal owner Theodore N. Lerner, who passed away on Feb. 12. He will be inducted into the Nationals Ring of Honor, which recognizes members of the Nationals, Washington Senators, Homestead Grays and Montreal Expos organizations. In remembrance, Nationals players and coaching staff will wear a patch on their jersey sleeves.