As they play through a portion of their schedule that seems to be stuck on repeat, the Washington Nationals (7-5) will face the Miami Marlins (5-8) for the second time in one week, this time at Marlins Park.
Last time, the Nationals swept the Marlins, and in this meeting both teams are coming off being swept, the Nationals by the Atlanta Braves and the Marlins by the Philadelphia Phillies. Miami’s loss yesterday marked its second consecutive sweep, and extended its losing streak to seven games.
The Nationals could use this series as a springboard into a tougher stretch of their schedule that includes series against the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Angels, if they perform similarly to their last faceoff with the Fish.
In their last series, Washington scored 22 runs to Miami’s eight, and smacked 29 hits to Miami’s 21. Not only were most of their numbers against Miami good, despite a rough start from Jordan Zimmermann, who will be looking for redemption in the first game of the series, the Nationals’ style of play was cleaner and more successfully aggressive than it was in Atlanta.
If the Nationals put up those numbers again, they have a good shot at winning this series, because though the Marlins started the season strong, opening the season 5-2 with 42 runs and a .294 team batting average in that span, they have slipped back into last place in the NL-East after a sorry six-game road trip.
While on the road, the Marlins averaged three runs, 7.8 hits and 10.5 strikeouts per game. Their impressive strikeout rate has given them the third-highest strikeout total in the majors at 117. Marlins first baseman Garrett Jones leads the majors with 22 strikeouts, and struck out 13 times over the last six games.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton has the second-most strikeouts on Miami’s staff with 15. Stanton has cooled off considerably since before his first meeting with the Nationals. Before going to Washington, Stanton was hitting .345 with two home runs, 12 RBI and five strikeouts. But over the last six games, he has a .231 batting average with two home runs, four RBI and 10 strikeouts.
Harper Honing In
Since one week ago after crushing a walloping home run off Brad Hand, who will start the first game of this series for Miami, Bryce Harper has broken out of his early season slump.
He started the season batting .160 with 11 strikeouts and zero RBIs in 25 at-bats, but since hitting his first home run of the season, Harper is hitting .529 and has struck out only five times. He has walked four times as opposed to only one pre-home run.
The increased production bodes well for the Nationals, not only because Harper’s potential to do damage significantly strengthens their lineup, but especially because as they deal with a string of recent injuries, the lineup needs all the help it can get.
In The Zone
Bryce Harper (LF) .476 AVG, .560 OBP, .667 SLG, 1 HR, 4 RBI (last six games)
Adeiny Hechavarria (SS) .304 AVG, .360 OBP, .435 SLG, 1 3B, 2 BB, 23 AB (last six games)
Christian Yelich (LF) .364 AVG, .462 OBP, .409 SLG, 4 BB, 4 R, 22 AB (last five games)
Giancarlo Stanton (RF) .231 AVG, .259 OBP, .462 SLG, 10 SO, 26 AB (last six games)
Marcell Ozuna (RF) .200 AVG, .259 OBP, .360 SLG, 6 SO, 25 AB (last six games)
4/14, Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 8.10 ERA, .379 BAA, 10 SO, 6.2 IP) vs. Brad Hand (0-0, 3.24 ERA, .167 BAA, 7 SO, 8.1 IP)
4/15, Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.24 ERA, .239 BAA, 28 SO, 17.0 IP) vs. Tom Koehler (1-1, 3.00 ERA, .261 BAA, 7 SO, 12.0 IP)
4/16, Tanner Roark (1-0, 5.91 ERA, .289 BAA, 8 SO, 10.2 IP) vs. Jose Fernandez (2-1, 3.78 ERA, .246 BAA, 23 SO, 16.2 IP)