Three Strikes: Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals

Huge series upcoming for the Marlins, as they kick off a nine game homestand with a weekend set against the rival Washington Nationals.  Projected at the start of the year as a matchup that could decide first place in the NL East, what we find instead is battle of two sub. 500 teams clashing for the right to claim they’ve perhaps finally turned the corner.  Of course for the Nats, that turnaround is viewed as more “when” than “if”; Marlins support is fading fast, as indicated by this ESPN piece here.  But let’s dive in and tackle series number six.

Why Miami Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Defense.  Remember how Miami put up about a million unearned runs in that Philadelphia series? Okay, maybe it was only seven, on the strength of six Philly errors.  That effort was horrible enough to move them into a tie for the worst defense in all of baseball…with the Nationals.  At 17 errors, they have more mistakes than games played.  Miami’s in a tie as well- for second best overall, one back of the Braves for tops in the game.
  • Strike 2- Offense.  On the strength of five consecutive games of ten-plus hits, Miami has actually pulled ahead of Washington in most offensive metrics.  Maybe you throw out runs, since the difference is exactly the seven run cushion the Bad News Phillies just gave up.  But the clubs are tied in RBIs, and the Marlins lead in average and hits.  Plus, as touched on extensively already, Miami has proven they’ve started to learn to take advantage of opponent mistakes.
  • Strike 3- Rusty Rotation.  Miami brings the hotter bats into the series, and does so at a time when- thus far- Washington’s rotation has struggled to find its dominance.  Based on 2015 numbers, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister are the best of the staff- and they are the two Nats not to pitch in the series.  Jordan Zimmerman- 6.14, Strasburg- 4.5.  Gio Gonzalez will take his 3.44 ERA to the mound in the Sunday game, and face off against Dan Haren- Miami’s most reliable hurler to date.

Why Washington Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Pitching.  On the strength of some excellent pitching in Philadelphia, Miami improved…to the 27th worst ERA in baseball.  The Nationals are fourth in ERA, tied for second in quality starts, and theoretically have the best rotation in baseball.  This just isn’t remotely close, and will only be “sorta close” when both Henderson Alvarez and Jose Fernandez return. Miami’s last winning season against the Nats was 2011, and this rotation is the reason.  Stephen Strasburg brings the worst stat line against MIA into the series, and it’s 9-5 with a 3.44 ERA.
  • Strike 2- Home Runs.  One offensive category that the Nationals do have a decisive edge in is the long ball, with a 15 to 9 advantage over the Marlins.  Combine that with the fact that Marlins pitchers have had a rather difficult time keeping it in the park this season, and this could end being a big difference maker- even in spacious Marlins Park.
  • Strike 3- Another one bites the dust.  Or rather, the injury bug bites again.  However you want to say it.  Christian Yelich- that’s budding star slugger and reigning Gold Glover Christian Yelich- just found his way to the 15-day DL.  Since the start of the season, Miami has already hap to lop four names off the 25 man roster they broke spring camp with.  And while Yelich was certainly struggling at the plate- his glove was in midseason form.  In a series that could actually end up having some close contests, his glove will be missed.  Meanwhile, the Nats have spent the week reacquainting Jayson Werth and Denard Span with their roles in the outfield- nearly at full strength, as Miami continues to take a beating.

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