It should be a pretty easy proposition. The Nats are at home and you can't make the argument that the Braves are better than the Nats. The Nats have made a habit out of beating the Braves this year and the Braves have made a habit of getting to the edge of a breakthrough only to tumble back down to the pack. 3-1 is the smart bet, and a Nats sweep might make more sense than a 1-3 series in the Braves favor.
Still, this is baseball - anything can happen, and the Nats fans have been waiting all season for some sort of shoe to drop. Is this really already a 90+ win team that can take the NL East without breaking a sweat? The matchups don't help clear anything up. After Strasburg v Hanson (which the Nats should have the edge) there are three straight games where the pitcher on either side could be replaced by a question mark.
Sheets v Jackson - Ben Sheets pitched 20 games in 2010. Then didn't pitch again until his two warm up minor league starts this month. His first start went well but there's no telling what he's back to being. Edwin Jackson was cruising along as one of the big 4 but in his last few starts he's been giving up a bunch of runs. It's not one thing in particular. He walks one or two more, gives up one or two more hits and that's enough to tip the scales. The good news is it wouldn't take much for him to get back to where he was. Is this just a blip?
Delgado v Lannan - Randall Delgado has a lot of potential, but control issues have kept him from being effective. The talent is there that if he's on he can shut you down but you only see that once every few games. Probably he'll give up a bunch of walks and get beat around. We all know Lannan. He hasn't been impressive in AAA but who knows if that's talent or mind set. He's never been known as a dominating force so a shutout win is unlikely, you just want a classic Lannan performance and not some sort of disaster.
Jurrjens v Detwiler - Jurrjens had been one of the best pitchers in the league last year and two years before that, but he's injury prone and if he's not healthy he can get hit hard. He looked healthy coming back from his most recent stint out but that all came crashing down in a terrible game against the Giants in his last start. Is the brief return of good Jurrjens already over? As for Detwiler, I hope no one is kidding themselves. He's fine as a 5 but not much more than that. He'll have bad games and good games, but as long as he avoids the homers (like he has most of the year) he should keep the Nats in it.
How to call these games? It takes a lot of luck for the Braves to play in a 4-game series with the Nats and not get 2 of Stras/Gio/ZNN but that's exactly what they are going to see. The Nats could just as easily lose big in all three as win big. It's all going to come down to who happens to pitch well that day, which should make for a hell of a series.