The Braves have lost 16 of their past 17 games, and they have now surrendered at least 15 earned runs in three of their past seven games. To put this alarming stat in perspective, they had allowed 15 earned runs in just 10 of the 3,948 games played from the start of the 1991 season through the beginning of this troubling stretch.
"As a group of guys, we're going out there battling every single day," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It's not like we're trying to give up runs and trying to just get two hits in a game. When things are going bad, they're going bad."
Long after Matt Wisler set the tone for the night by allowing the Nationals seven earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings, the Braves looked up at their final tally and found just two hits. This marked just the second time in franchise history that the Braves allowed at least 15 runs while recording two hits or fewer. The previous occurrence was a 15-0 loss to the New York Giants on May 29, 1936.
"We can see what we really are made of by going out in these last 28 games and see what you can do, instead of getting manhandled every single night," Freeman said. "As a professional baseball player, that's not what you want. You don't come to the yard every day expecting to lose by 14 or 15 runs every single day."
However you cut it, the Braves are dealing with the effects of utilizing a rotation that includes three rookies and a makeshift bullpen. Their starting pitchers have lasted fewer than five innings in seven of their past 14 games, and fewer than three innings in four of their past 11 games.
Still, other than calling up veteran Minor Leaguers who have never been deemed fit to pitch at the Major League level, the Braves have no choice but to continue sending Wisler -- a 9.49 ERA in his past seven starts -- and Williams Perez -- a 9.50 ERA in his past seven starts -- to the mound every five days. The same goes for fellow rookie Mike Foltynewicz, who will likely rejoin the rotation next week, attempting to separate himself from the struggles that have led him to produce a 6.47 ERA in his past six starts.
"They better get used to it," Gonzalez said. "It's one of those things where there is no more help. If we feel that they're our guys and we want them to be our guys, then they need to get over it. They need to go out, get the big outs and complete the big innings. Sooner than later, we need to do that."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.