The Florida Marlins (8-1) may very well be the hottest team in baseball right now as the Nationals welcome them into D.C with something they haven’t had all year, a winning streak.
The Nationals (1-7) look to cool down the boys from Miami as they will try to get their season up and started after taking nearly two weeks to earn their first win. The relief came Thursday night for the Nats as they topped the Phillies 8-2 at home.
The Marlins on the other hand look to go 9-1 for the first time in franchise history as they make their annual once every five-year run to the playoffs(last time the Marlins went 8-1 they won the World Series in 2004). The fish have a collection of young, athletic infielders who look to carry the team all year long and have many experts calling for them to at least earn the Wild Card, if not win the hotly contested NL East.
Catcher: John Baker .348/.469/.434
First Base: Jorge Cantu .370/.469/.630
Second Base: Dan Uggla .323/.432/.613
Third Base: Emilo Bonifacio .386/.400/.523
Oh yeah…and they have this under producing shortstop; Hanley Ramirez. The Marlins have been this good with Hanley only batting .289/.341/.500. Once the all-around best player in baseball wakes up, Florida may be too good to stop.
The Nationals aren’t ready to just give in however, as it seems the club may have finally found an identity. Since the two teams last meeting, the Nats have re-established Elijah Dukes as an everyday starter (Duh), and have shook up their line up to feature their high on base percentage ability.
Dukes, along with outfield mate Adam Dunn have been on a tear. Both are batting over .340 with an OPS soaring over 1.000. It seems their hot streak has infused the other Nationals batters, or at least has allowed the hitters around them to see more pitches.
As it turns out: Emilo Bonifacio is human.
The former National turned stand up inside-the-park homerun artist Bonifacio started 2009 going 14 for 24 with 9 runs scored and four stolen bases in the seasons first four games.
Thought through collective Nat-fan minds: “…crap”
Not to worry, as it seems once the Dominican native left south beach Miami he has turned back to the player he was for the Nationals only six months ago. In his last 19 at bats he has only three hits, no stolen bases and nine strikeouts.
Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 7.36) vs. John Lannan (0-2, 10.00)
Both Nolasco and Lannan are talented pitchers coming off a very good 2008. Both entered 2009 expecting to make a leap from good to great, but so far both have just been lousy. Nolasco has given up nine runs in eleven innings, and Lannan(a lefty) has not been effective against lefties. These two wont pitch poorly for long, both hungry, tonight’s match-up could be a great pitchers duel.
Josh Johnson (2-0, 0/57) vs. Scott Olsen (0-2, 14.63)
Entering 2008 Scott Olsen was the Florida Marlins best pitcher. So far through 2009 Josh Johnson is the Florida Marlins, and maybe baseball’s, best pitcher. On Sunday Johnson went head-to-head with future hall-of-famer Johan Santana and battled out a 2-1 victory over the Mets. He had a no hitter going into the sixth by using his high 90’s fastball and a whiplash change-up. Oh…Scott Olsen throws ok curveballs…
Chris Volstad (2-0, 1.50) vs. Daniel Cabrera (0-1, 4.91)
Volstad is a 6 foot 8, 22-year-old, with excellent stuff, and pin point control. Daniel Cabrera is a 6 foot 8, 28-year-old, with excellent stuff, and doesn’t even know what control looks like. The two pitchers should be eerily similary in their pitching approaches, but for some reason throughout his career Cabrera hasn’t been able to throw strikes consistently. Now he is reduced to purposely taking 5-8 MPH off his fastball just to try and dart it into the zone.