Nats, Marlins Start Four-Game Set Including Friday Doubleheader

The Miami Marlins (48-57) return Nationals Park this weekend to face the Washington Nationals (62-42) for the first time in the Nats home park since April. The Nats and the Fish were rained out during their last visit – when the Nationals won both games that were played – so a Friday double-header will serve as a make up. 

Times have certainly changed since the Marlins were last in D.C. During that April series, the Marlins were just 3.5 games behind the Nationals. Now they have dipped to 14.5 games behind, just one game ahead of the last place Philadelphia Phillies. With the Marlins’ defining what it means to be a seller before the Trade Deadline, they don’t look to improve much this season, giving the Nationals one less rival to worry about.

The Marlins failed at their opportunity to help the Nationals out this week, winning only one game of a four game series against the second place Atlanta Braves (2.5 games behind the Nationals). This weekend the Nats will have to help themselves out by continuing the Marlins recent bout of losing, because the Braves chances of winning their weekend series against the 35-71 Houston Astros are pretty good.

Since they last played each other at Marlins Park, the Fish have gone 5-11 while the Nationals have won an impressive 11 of 17.

Trading Away

For a team that had high hopes for itself at the beginning of the season, the outlook for the Marlins is looking grimmer and grimmer as they are fading out of contention and joining the Phillies at the bottom of the NL East.

Now that the Marlins have traded away most of their team and what seems like the rest of it is on the disabled list, the Nationals will be facing nearly a completely different team than the one they played two weeks ago.

Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison are both on the DL, which was a significant hit to the Marlins’ offense. Big names and big contributors among them, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate, Hanley Ramirez, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez were all traded. The roster overhaul left shortstop Jose Reyes as the only infielder left who started on Opening Day.

On MLB.com, Reyes commented on how the tough losses and turbulent roster are affecting the guys who remain:

“It’s shocking, because we went to Spring Training with high expectations,” Reyes said. “That team we had on Opening Day was a pretty good team. We were not able to put everything together. As a player, you need to continue to play, continue to go on the field, don’t worry about what happened, how many guys the team is trading. You need to stay focused on the field and continue to do your job…Hopefully we can finish the season strong, play .500 baseball or better.”

His high hopes for the rest of the season may see some return this weekend against the Nationals, because the Nats have never had very good luck against the Marlins. They are 51-83 against them since 2005, and are 4-5 this year. 

Worth Noting

- Fortunately for the Nationals, they will miss Giancarlo Stanton’s return from the DL. He is expected to return after the Marlins leave Washington and head north to play the New York Mets. Even though he has been out 27 days, he still leads the club in home runs (19) and RBIs (50). He was hitting .284 on the season before he was put on the DL. 

- The Marlins have the fifth lowest batting average in the major leagues (.242) to the Nationals .256 average, and they have the tenth highest ERA (4.16) to the Nationals MLB lowest 3.26. 

- Due to the double header on Friday, Brad Hand will make his first major league start of the year. He has posted a 3.66 ERA through 22 starts in Triple-A ball for 2012.

- Also due to the double header, John Lannan will come back to the bigs for the second time this year to start the day game. His last time up he put together a strong performance, powering the Nats to a win over the Braves.

Who’s hot?

Jose Reyes (SS) .342 AVG, .381 OBP, .608 SLG, 4 HR (20 game hitting streak)

Justin Ruggiano (LF) .333 AVG, .389 OBP, .609 SLG, 6 HR (July)

Steve Cishek (CL) 0.00 ERA, .179 AVG, 1.220 OBP, 1 SO, 1 BB, 11.1 IP (July)

Who’s not?

John Buck (C) .133 AVG, .224 OBP, .217 SLG, 22 SO (July)

Dan Jennings (RP) 6.75 ERA, .368 AVG, .429 OBP, 1 HR, 4.0 IP (July)

Probable Starters

John Lannan (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Brad Hand (0-0, -.– ERA)

Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.27 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (6-7, 4.04 ERA)

Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 2.28 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (9-10, 3.60 ERA)

Stephen Strasburg (11-5, 3.12 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (8-10, 4.90 ERA)

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.