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Washington Nationals Series #6 Preview: Marlins Opposition Research

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You may know the Nationals, but how well do you know the teams that they roll over with their group of epic Span-tastic fun-loving baseball juggernauts? To prepare you for this series, here is a primer on the Miami Marlins. Learn their strengths and weaknesses and take your job as armchair manager to new heights.

Hey, my old buddies are over there!
Hey, my old buddies are over there!
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins are on a two game winning streak (against the Phillies), but that streak has only brought them up to five wins for the season (tied with the Phillies).  No one in Miami is happy with the team's performance so far.  This is all good news for the Nationals, who will spend the weekend in Miami trying to bring their own record back up to snuff.  There are 146 games left in the season.  Taking these games would be a nice morale boost after the disappointment of the past few days.  Never give up.

Friday, 7:10 pm - Jordan Zimmermann vs Matt Latos
After a terrible start to the season (10 runs in 4.2 IP over his first two starts), Latos settled down and threw a solid five innings (2 runs) against the Mets.  Zimm has had a rocky time of it as well, and he allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings last time out.  These pitchers are not predictable yet here in April.

Saturday, 4:10 pm - Stephen Strasburg vs Tom Koehler
So far, Koehler has been liberal with both hits and walks, which bodes well for the Nationals since Strasburg's showed some strong stuff last time out.  This is the one game where the Nats have a clear advantage and they need to really take advantage of it.

Sunday, 1:10 pm - Gio Gonzalez vs Dan Haren
Haren has not allowed any runs to score this season, except via the home run.  He has allowed seven runs to score by that route in 19 innings.  Haren's walk rate is up from past seasons, but other than that there are unlikely to be any surprises to Nationals fans.  Gio was better last time out and will hopefully do his best close to home.

That's three right-handed starters from the Fish, none of which are all that great.  The only reason there are worries in these matchups is because Jordan and Gio have not been pitching up to their potential.  This is a great chance for them to turn the corner a little.

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The Marlins Lineup

The Marlins offensive numbers so far only lag a little behind the Nationals.  They have shown less home run power but more speed.  Playing at home, they could be a threat.

2B - Dee Gordon
++ speed
+ bat (lefty)
average glove

Many argued that Miami overpaid to get this kid, but here is is leading the Marlins offense batting .375/.388/.469 to date with 7 stolen bases. Though he is unlikely to stay this hot at the plate, he's on pace to match the 64 bags he stole last year.
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3B- Martin Prado
average bat
+ glove

Prado has had a weak start, but has broken out a bit with five hits in the past two games. Has a .305 OBP so far.
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RF - Giancarlo Stanton
+++ bat
- glove

He's up and running at nearly full steam.  Be careful or he will hurt you, but you already knew that.

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1B - Michael Morse
+ bat
- glove
Michael Morse!  Luckily for the Nats, this big kid is off to a slow start.  Love him or love him, he can do big damage if he puts bat to ball.
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CF - Marcell Ozuna
+ glove
+ bat
The 23 HR power from last year has not shown itself yet, but this kid has been getting on base at a good rate so far (.358 OBP).
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LF - Ichiro Suzuki
- bat (lefty)
average glove
+ speed

This veteran is just looking for hits, and he still picks them up regularly even though his bat is no longer league average and his speed is in decline.  He's up past 2,850 hits now.
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C - J.T. Realmuto
solid bat
+ glove
Realmuto has been taking playing time from Saltalamacchia thanks to his bat (and Salty's lack of bat).  Is is merely a respectable bat (.711 OPS), but it shines next to Salty's (.439 OPS).  Strong defensively.
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SS - Adeiny Hechavarria
- bat (lefty)
average glove
Adeiny's bat is still lackluster, but there are rumors of rumors that his defense has picked up a bit from past efforts.  He is not a huge threat either way.

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This Marlins lineup is stacked at the top.  Getting through that part will be much like getting through the top of the Cardinals order, but here in Miami it does get a lot easier after that.

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The Marlins Bullpen

The Marlin bullpen numbers stink to high heaven.  As a group they boast an ERA of 4.96.  That is not good.  These pitchers have not been getting the job done.

Stalwart Steve Cishek got shelled in his first appearances and has only been used sparsely since.  Past stalwart #2 Mike Dunn sports an ugly ERA of 9.00 after 6 IP.  Three other righties have had more luck: A.J. Ramos, Bryan Morris and Sam Dyson.  The latest call-up, Nick Massey has thrown one solid inning.

Lefty Brad Hand has gotten a lot of work so far with mixed results (ERA over 4).

There are definitely some weak spots to hit here, but the peripherals are not as weak as the runs allowed seem to suggest.  They are definitely weaker than the Nationals pen, but there is no knowing exactly how much weaker they are at the moment.

Can They Be Swept?

Just do it.  The Fish are putting up three hittable pitchers.  This series is begging for a sweep in part because it is a series and sweeping was invented to be done unto series.  It really is that simple.

Clearly, it would be a shame if the Nats don't  win every game.  One does not win 152 games by losing games.  Remember the story about the race between the turtle and the rabbit?  Don't be the rabbit that snoozes and loses.  Be the turtle with the nun-chucks.  Turtles would never approve of losing to fish, even fish armed with baseball bats.  Neither should you.