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Nationals vs. Marlins Series Preview: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg headline probables against lowly Marlins

The Washington Nationals are meeting up with the Miami Marlins for the first of 18 games between the two clubs this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Nationals (26-22) vs. Marlins (19-30) series info:

Game 1: Friday, May 25 at 7:10 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Saturday, May 26 at 4:10 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Game 3: Sunday, May 27 at 1:10 p.m. EST (MASN2/106.7)

Pitching matchups:

Friday: Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.78 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (0-7, 4.55)

Saturday: Tanner Roark (2-4, 3.39) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (1-2, 6.55)

Sunday: Stephen Strasburg (5-4, 3.36) vs. Elieser Hernandez (0-1, 2.08)

What to watch for:

What can the kid do?

With his first full series under his belt, 19-year-old Juan Soto is now tasked with proving himself while there’s still playing time to be had. Adam Eaton is reportedly ahead of schedule in his rehab from an ankle injury, putting a timer on Soto’s time in the big leagues. Although it’s unlikely Washington would keep Soto in the majors as a bench player, he could prove himself worthy of an everyday role with a strong showing over the next few weeks. Michael Taylor’s continued struggles will be worth watching as well, as Soto could potentially take his spot in the lineup if the Nats’ center fielder doesn’t find his rhythm.

Mad Max for MVP?

There have only been two seasons in the 21st century in which a starting pitcher won the MVP: 2011 (Justin Verlander) and 2014 (Clayton Kershaw). So far, however, Max Scherzer is pitching better than both of them in the MVP-winning campaigns. Scherzer has posted a better ERA, more strikeouts and a lower OPS against than both Verlander and Kershaw did over their first 10 starts. The field of hitters is also weaker than it’s been in past years, with seven of the top 10 hitters in baseball by fWAR playing in the American League. Scherzer is already the reigning NL Pitcher of the Month, can he keep it up for the full season?

Lots of empty seats out there…

The Marlins rank dead last in Major League Baseball in attendance so far this season, drawing just 10,603 fans to Marlins Park per game. That number is over 3,500 fans fewer than the 19th-ranked Tampa Bay Rays. Things don’t look like they’re going to get better any time soon either, as Miami owns the worst run differential (-85) in the league and are just now facing the Nationals for the first time, whom they will play 18 times this year. Good luck this season and beyond, Marlins fans…

Series history:

The Marlins lead the all-time series (2005-present) 122-116 but the Nats hold the edge since 2012 with a mark of 69-44. This series marks the first meeting between these two club this season. Washington won 13 of 19 games between the two clubs in 2017.