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Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats begin nine-game homestand with the Marlins in town

The Washington Nationals begin a 13-game stretch in which it won’t face a team above .500, beginning with NL East foes Miami Marlins.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Marlins (52-57) vs. Nationals (65-44) Series Info:

Game 1: Monday, Aug. 7 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Game 4: Thursday, Aug. 10 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Chris O’Grady (2-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.21)

Tuesday: Vance Worley (1-2, 5.31) vs. A.J. Cole (1-1, 4.91)

Wednesday: Adam Conley (4-4, 5.10) vs. Gio Gonzalez (9-5, 2.66)

Thursday: Dan Straily (7-8, 3.77) vs. Tanner Roark (9-7, 4.82)

What to watch for:

Injured stars on the road to recovery

The Nationals don’t face another team with a winning record until Aug. 22 when they open a three-game series with the Houston Astros, giving them plenty of time to get some of their injured players off the disabled list.

Stephen Strasburg isn’t expected to start in this series but is considered close to returning, while Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth are both on rehab assignments.

A little further behind is Trea Turner, who’s not yet playing any games but is in line to return to field in the next few weeks.

If all goes according to plan, the Nats will have at least three of their four star players back on the field once they head to Houston.

Bullpen roles are rounding into form nicely

Get used to it, Nationals fans. It appears Dusty’s settled on how he wants to organize his best arms at the back of the ‘pen: Brandon Kintzler in the seventh, Ryan Madson for the eighth and Sean Doolittle closing things out in the ninth.

The trio has combined to post a 2.00 ERA, 10.0 K/9, five holds and five saves in 18 innings for the Nats and has yet to blow a lead since being acquired.

Washington’s bullpen woes are far from behind them with Enny Romero hitting the disabled list and Matt Albers sporting a 4.11 ERA over his past 18 appearances, but there does appear to be some stability at the back end.

Giancarlo Stanton chasing home run crown

As if his performances in the home run derbies of the past two seasons weren’t enough, Giancarlo Stanton is once again at the top of the MLB leaderboard in the long ball category.

With 36 on the season after launching three in the Marlins’ series with the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, Stanton holds a slight edge over Aaron Judge (35) for the highest mark in the majors.

Stanton has only hit one homer in 35 at-bats against the Nationals this season, so it will be worth watching to see if he can keep the power surge going against the NL East’s best.

Who to watch out for: Vance Worley

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I typically put a hitter here, but Dee Gordon, J.T. Realmuto and Miami’s outfield are its only stars that are both healthy and hitting well.

Vance Worley tossed seven innings of scoreless baseball against the Nationals his last time on the mound, and owns a 2.79 ERA over his last 19.1 innings.

Worley was effective with both his sinker and cutter in that last start, generating 14 ground balls including two double plays.

Look for the Nats to try to put some elevation on the ball in their second go-around with the Marlins’ righty.