In the middle of a seven-game winning streak, the Atlanta Braves have emerged as the Nationals' biggest threat in the National League East. They are still three games back from Washington in the division, but may have found a secret weapon for the season's second half.
On Sunday afternoon Atlanta threw out right-hander Ben Sheets for his first major league start since July 19, 2010. Sheets was facing the N.L.'s fourth highest-scoring offense in the New York Mets and allowed zero runs and just two hits through six innings of work. The 34 year old was signed to a minor league deal two weeks ago after his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Sheets was a four-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, but has battled major injuries over the last four seasons. He missed the 2008 postseason and all of 2009 with elbow problems, came back for 20 starts with Oakland in 2010, and then missed all of 2011 and the first half of this season after having Tommy John.
One solid game doesn't mean that Sheets has regained his All-Star form, but the Braves have been riding a surging offense to their recent wins. Pitching has been their weak point, especially with the loss of Brandon Beachy, and a boost to their rotation would be ideal.