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Series Preview Pt. 2: Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins Q&A with Fish Stripes

We talked to the SB Nation's Miami Marlins site, Fish Stripes, about the upcoming series in the nation's capital as Pt. 2 of our preview of the four-game set in the Washington Nationals' home. Guess which Marlin we picked when asked who we'd steal?

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We do the best we can to spread the good word about the Washington Nationals whenever possible, so when a writer from the SB Nation's Miami Marlins site, Fish Stripes, reached out with a few questions, we were happy to answer the queries. Here's two questions from their series preview and there's a link to three more questions and answers below:

Fish Stripes (FS) Nationals' biggest surprise so far in the young season?:

Federal Baseball (FBB): Maybe Shawn Kelley? I thought he was a real under-the-radar-ish signing by Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals' front office, so maybe it's not a surprise that he's done well, but he's off to a pretty impressive start: no runs allowed in 16 appearances and 11 ⅔ innings pitched, two walks (1.54 BB/9), 16 Ks (12.34 K/9) and a .205/.239/.295 line against. I also think he's one of several options capable of closing in the future should Jonathan Papelbon falter or continue to struggle to miss bats like he has early this season. Kelley has the kind of swing and miss stuff that I think would play well in the ninth if necessary. He signed a 3-year/$15M deal with the Nationals this winter after a solid season in San Diego and so far he's been an important part of the Nationals' nearly completely-rebuilt bullpen, but he's gone about it quietly.

FS: The Nationals were seen at times last season as having a dysfunctional clubhouse, much of which seems to have been attributed to the departed Matt Williams. What has Dusty Baker and company brought to the table that has made a difference this year?

FBB: I think Williams probably takes more of the blame than he deserves for what went wrong, which I blame mostly on the injuries and players struggling to get back up to speed once they did return to the lineup. But he definitely seemed to have lost the clubhouse. There was a fairly brutal article in The Washington Post late last season that had Jayson Werth finally snapping and letting Williams no that his approach to handling the team didn't go over well with his players. There was, according to a number of reports, a stiffness and tension in the clubhouse and that's one difference so far this season. The Nationals, as a team, seem a lot looser and confident with Baker around. I mentioned Mike Maddux earlier and I think he's had a big influence on some of the pitchers, with little tweaks here and there (Gio Gonzalez's delivery, Stephen Strasburg pitch selection) that I don't know are Maddux's doing, but seem like positive developments. I also really like what I've seen on the basepaths from the Nationals under Baker and more importantly, first base coach Davey Lopes, whose reputation as a baserunning guru preceded him and seems to be legit. They're a different team under the new regime and it's been noticeable.

Check out the rest of our inteview with the folks at Fish Stripes through the link below:

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