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Washington Nationals Series #9 Preview: Marlins Opposition Research

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You may know the Nationals, but how well do you know the team that they played just a week ago? 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. Seriously, you can't be too prepared.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins are one half of a game ahead of the Nats, a problem that a series win can fix.  The Nats should enjoy this homestand.  There are only 136 games left to win and these three might be important come August.  The Marlins just took two of three from the Phillies, but are ripe for the picking (or fishing).  The Nats should be able to handle the three righties that the Fish are starting, so all three games are potential wins in this series played at Nationals Park.

Monday, 7:05 pm - Jordan Zimmermann vs David Phelps
Phelps has pitched three great starts to date (and a rocky relief outing that accounts for more than half his ERA).  Zimm flirted with the quality start last time out, but did not get the win against the Fish two starts ago.  Don't expect a pitchers' duel, but it could happen.

Tuesday, 7:05 pm - Stephen Strasburg vs Mat Latos
Latos has been allowing multiple runs per game and he has only reached the 6th inning once this season.  His high WHIP brands him as a great target for the Nats' offense.  Strasburg does need to step up his game this week after the Marlins scored four runs off him last week.

Wednesday, 1:05 pm - Max Scherzer vs Tom Koehler
Scherzer does not deserve to have three losses.  The Nats really need to score a few runs when he pitches.  Koehler shut down the Nats for 7.1 innings recently, but normally he is relatively hittable.  Koehler is weak to lefty batters, and the Nats now have a few more of those.

The Marlins Lineup

The Marlins offense is real.  Hopefully, the Nationals pitching can shut them down, but there are some hot bats to work around.

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

Dee Gordon has heated up even more since last we saw him.  He is now batting .440/.463/.510 (which is unsustainable, just like it was two weeks ago).  He has stolen 11 bases so far (compare Nats at 3).
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3B- Martin Prado
average bat
+ glove

Prado has continued to heat up a little, but his bat is still relatively tame.
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RF - Giancarlo Stanton
+++ bat
- glove

He is no Dee Gordon, but Stanton is a big threat with his 6 home runs.

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CF - Marcell Ozuna
+ glove
+ bat
Ozuna started the season batting 6th but has worked his way up to the #4 slot.  He is batting .317/.389/.402.
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1B - Michael Morse
+ bat
- glove
Morse is only a little more productive than Jayson Werth.  Marlins fans are not happy, but the rest of the lineup has carried him so far.
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C - J.T. Realmuto
solid bat
+ glove

It continues to not be about the bat with Realmuto, but he is getting the job done.  In brighter news, Sunday was the season debut of Jhonatan "Onion" Solano.
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LF - Ichiro Suzuki
- bat (lefty)
average glove
+ speed
Ichiro keeps chugging along, getting on base but with little power.  His hit count now sits at 2862.
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SS - Adeiny Hechavarria
- bat (lefty)
average glove
Hech continues to put up solid numbers at the plate, and his defense has made him the 2nd most valuable player on the team so far by WAR.

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There are lot of threats in the lineup, but right now one simply can't let Dee Gordon and Stanton get away with anything.  Don't take this lineup lightly.  It is full of annoying threats.

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The Marlins Bullpen

The Marlin bullpen has stabilized and it is working hard to become respectable.  It would not hurt to challenge these pitchers before they get too set in their ways and insist on not allowing runs to score.

Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are still not looking very solid.  The three righties that were pitching well last time, A.J. RamosBryan Morris and Sam Dyson, are all still pitching well, as is Nick Masset.

Lefty Brad Hand has been lights out against lefties but struggled vs righties.

Can They Be Swept?

The Nats just took three games off the Mets, who are a better team than the Marlins.  It is logical that the Nats should be able to take three games from the Fish as well.

Clearly, it would be a shame if the Nats don't  win every game.  One does not win 148 games by losing games.  The Nats pitching is starting to look good, so if the offense can get Max some runs winning these games is very possible.  It's going to be a warm week, which means it's time to fry some Fish.  Summer is coming!

Some readers remain skeptical that the Nats will sweep this series (or any other series thus presented).  To them I say this: Don't believe in these Nats.  Believe in me!  Believe in this Nats fan who believes in the Nats!

Never give up!  Never surrender!