Marlins (36-52) vs. Nationals (42-43) series info:
Game 1: Thursday, July 5 at 7:05 p.m. ET (MASN/106.7 The Fan)
Game 2: Friday, July 6 at 7:05 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)
Game 3: Saturday, July 7 at 7:15 p.m. EST (FOX/106.7)
Game 4: Sunday, July 8 at 1:35 p.m. EST (MASN/106.7)
Thursday: Pablo Lopez (6 IP, 2 ER) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.63 ERA)
Friday: Dan Straily (3-4, 4.70) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.77)
Saturday: Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 5.55) vs. Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.16)
Sunday: Trevor Richards (2-5, 5.26) vs. Tanner Roark (3-10, 4.60)
What to watch for:
Nats resolve to end skid against Miami
Following a series sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Nats’ veterans pulled the team together for a players-only meeting in which Max Scherzer yelled and the team agreed to “get this thing going.”
Washington has lost 17 of its last 22 games and fallen below .500 for the first time since May 2 with its loss to Boston on Sunday. This is the latest in a season the Nats have had a losing record since Aug. 16, 2015 — the last season the team missed the playoffs.
Starting pitching has become a problem
From the start of the season through June 9, the Nats were second in the NL with a 3.02 starter’s ERA. Since then, however, Washington’s rotation has put together an MLB-worst 6.09 ERA even with Scherzer continuing to pitch like a Cy Young contender.
Injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson haven’t helped, but both Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez have found themselves slumping as well. Scherzer can’t carry the pitching staff alone and will need his fellow starters to step up if this team is going to start winning again.
The Marlins battling for fourth place in the NL East
Thanks to the Mets being the Mets, Miami has something worth fighting for. The Marlins entered the season as the consensus worst team in the NL East but enter play Thursday just a half game behind New York for the fourth-place spot in the division.
Miami’s -109 run differential is far and away the worst in the NL, but that won’t mean a thing if the club can surpass the Mets in the standings. If the Mets do decide to trade either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard at the deadline, the Marlins’ chances will only get better.
The Marlins lead the all-time series (2005-present) 122-119, but the Nats are the superior team at their home ballpark with a record of 65-54. Washington swept Miami in their sole three-game series earlier this season.