The Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins wrap up a three-game series at Marlins Park on Thursday. The Marlins will welcome the Phillies to town over the weekend, while the Nationals head to Detroit for another road series. At least they get a couple of series against inferior opponents. These are the kinds of games that you can’t afford to play lousy in.
Losses against bad teams add up by the end of the season. It may ultimately be irrelevant to the Nationals, who are currently 8 games out of 1st in the NL East. They have to figure out a way to make it past the Phillies and Braves, which I don’t see happening. Like a lot of teams, though, the Nats are at least in the mix for a shot at the wildcard.
In the mix doesn’t mean a whole lot at the moment considering how tight the standings are. We’ll learn a lot more in August about who the pretenders are. If the Nationals somehow sneak up on the Phillies and overtake them for a wildcard, that’s going to be the headline of the day.
Bryce Harper signs with the Phillies, on a better built team, and his old employer finds a way to finish ahead? That’s going to cause a little bit of egg in the face for Harper, who will get blasted on social media and elsewhere. It isn’t going to be an easy chore to complete for the Nats, though.
They have major bullpen issues holding them back. That is going to have to be addressed before the deadline if the Nationals are serious about making the postseason. Stephen Strasburg will get the call against the Marlins on Thursday, so hopefully they won’t have to worry about their relievers blowing up. The Marlins are expected to turn to Sandy Alcantara in this matchup. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Marlins pick.
Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins Pick:
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Stephen Strasburg has been healthy this season, that’s the most important thing for him. He will be making his 17th start of the season after appearing in only 22 in 2018. So, knock on wood. He’s been pitching around the same level as last season. Strasburg exited last season with an ERA of 3.74. He goes into tonight with an ERA of 3.79, so he’s been able to pick right up from where he left off. However, he’s off from his career-high ERA of 2.52 in 2017. The Marlins likely aren’t going to be thrilled to see Strasburg on the bump tonight. They haven’t had a productive history against him in the past.
The Marlins are hitting .189 with only 1 home run and 4 RBI’s in 148 at-bats. That isn’t a lot given that number of at-bats. They’ve barely scraped by against Strasburg. Also, Strasburg for whatever reason, hasn’t taken kindly to pitching in Washington. He holds an ERA of 4.71 and 1.17 WHIP at home, but on the road, he watches his numbers drop to an ERA of 2.92 and 0.99 WHIP. He was nearly perfect against Miami in his last appearance against them, with only 2 hits and no runs allowed in 8 innings. The Nats rode his arm to a 5-0 win in that contest back in April.
Conversely, Sandy Alcantara hasn’t had good control of things against Washington. Nationals’ hitters have gotten to him for a .378 average and .453 OBP in 45 at-bats. Anthony Rendon, the heaviest hitter on the Nationals, is hitting .500 with a long ball in 8 appearances against Alcantara. Rendon may not get the most attention, but somebody is going to be willing to give him big money soon. Alcantara has been better of late, but he faces a tough challenge on Thursday night. The Nats have quietly put together a 7-2 run in their previous nine games. Expect another win behind a solid Strasburg performance in Miami on Thursday.