Three Strikes: Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins

With both clubs seeming shaking off their early season malaise and starting to hit their stride, it would stand to reason to expect a much more tightly contested series this time around, as the second place Miami Marlins and third place Washington Nationals continue their chase for first place in this clash of NL East rivals.  Who comes out ahead in D.C (besides Frank Underwood)? Let’s take a look.

Why Miami Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Defense.  Bet you didn’t see that coming.  In case you missed the broadcast yesterday, according to FOX Sports Florida’s crack staff, only one team in the last 15 years has allowed less unearned runs than the one Miami has given up through the season’s first twenty-four games. Miami still leads the defensive pack with the fewest errors entering play Sunday, and Washington continues to hold down the fort as baseball’s worst fielding team.
  • Strike 2- Offense.  Close call here.  Yet crazily enough, through 24 games, no team in the NL has a higher batting average than Miami.  A big part of that is the fact that Miami is pacing the majors in infield hits- a stat that is especially of interest considering the quality of defense the Marlins are taking on in the series.  Marlins lead in all major categories save RBIs and HRs, which certainly are important.  But again, Fish seem to hold the edge in every “little thing” metric- even are second best in the NL at pinch-hitting- and that could come up huge in what should be a low scoring series.
  • Strike 3- Dee Gordon.  We could cover the fact he’s pacing both circuits in hits and average, with 44 hits at a .440 clip.  Or just acknowledge the fact he put up an 8 for 13 line against these same Nats last week, and that this series will feature two of the same pitchers he eked out that tally against.  I’d throw out he’s second in the game in stolen bases, except then I’d have to remember he leads baseball in getting caught, and was thrown out twice in that last Washington set.  But overall he’s been quite the spark plug, with a skill set that could continue to reap benefits this series.

Why Washington Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Pitching.  Washington will send a combined five All-Star game appearances and one Cy Young award to the mound in this three game set.  The Marlins return serve with only one SP who has a career ERA under 4.00.  Despite the fact Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg did both fail to beat Miami last time out, this matchup isn’t even close.  The only bright side here for the Fish is that the next time these clubs meet, they should have both Henderson Alvarez and Jose Fernandez back in the rotation.
  • Strike 2- Momentum.  Two teams in the NL East have a record of .500 or better in their last ten games, and Washington is one of them.  Having won consecutive series since their sweep at the hands of the Marlins, they’ve also put up a season best four consecutive games without an error.  Plus while both teams won their weekend series, Washington did win Sunday; Miami lost in sloppy fashion.  Miami caught a scuffling Washington last time around- they’re clicking now.
  • Strike 3- The 2015 Michael Morse.  Morse, with an 0-4 day at the plate Sunday, saw his batting average dip to a frightening .193. Now to be fair, he does have ten teammates beat.  Of course, six of those are pitchers, and if were add up all the at bats of those ten teammates, Morse would still have been to the plate twenty more times.  Only three players in MLB with 88 at-bats or more have an average of. 193 or worse: Josh Harrison, Jimmy Rollins, and Andrew McCutchen.  And none of them have struck out as much as Morse.  Morse will get to play this week, as he’s been solid defensively, and will be returning to previous homes in both Washington and San Francisco.  While this could invigorate him, the track record in 2015 just says there’ll be an easy out in the No. 5 hole.
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