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Washington Nationals Series Preview: Six-game homestand begins against Miami Marlins

The Nationals return home this weekend to kick off their latest homestand against the Marlins...

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals continued to tread water on their most recent road trip against the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays, winning two of their five games in the last week.

Now they return home to Nationals Park for six divisional games, starting with a three-game weekend series against the Miami Marlins.

After a slow start to the year, the Marlins have now won three of their last five series.

The Marlins are buoyed by a starting rotation that keeps them in games. Their starters boast a 3.27 ERA as a group, which ranks seventh in the majors and is seemingly getting better and better as the season goes on with some of the younger starters stepping up in a big way.

Here’s what you can expect from the upcoming weekend series at Nationals Park...

The schedule

  • Game One: Friday, April 30th, 7:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Saturday, May 1st, 1:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN and MLB Network (out-of-market), Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Sunday, May 2nd, 1:05 pm EDT. TV: MASN, Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Pitching matchups

  • Game One: Jon Lester (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs Pablo López (0-2, 2.93 ERA)
  • Game Two: *Joe Ross (2-1, 4.64 ERA) vs Paul Campbell (0-1, 8.22 ERA)
  • Game Three: Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs Trevor Rogers (3-1, 1.29 ERA)

*Patrick Corbin (0-3, 10.47 ERA) could also potentially start on Saturday

Who’s hot?

Trea Turner: Following a poor series against the Mets, Turner returned to his scorching form against the Blue Jays going 6-for-9 in the series with a pair of home runs and a double.

In his last 10 games, Turner now has a slash line of .385/.415/.718 with four home runs.

However, that line is propped up by an unsustainable .458 BABIP with 11 strikeouts and no walks.

Ideally, Turner would start to work more walks again and get traffic on the bases while he sits at the top of the order. They won’t complain too much if he’s launching it over the fence though.

Trevor Rogers: This spot could well have gone to Jazz Chisholm, Jr. who has been one of the most exciting players in baseball this season. Unfortunately, the young shortstop is injured and will miss this series, so we’ll show some love to the current ace of the staff in Rogers.

After a so-so first start of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals, Rogers has been dominant ever since with a sparkling 0.75 ERA in four starts, striking out 32 and walking just six, holding opponents to a .195/.258/.268 slash line despite a .306 BABIP in that time.

Rogers is set to face off against Max Scherzer in the series finale of this three-game set in what looks to be lining up as a real pitchers’ duel to close out the weekend.

Who’s not?

Yan Gomes: After spending time on the COVID IL to start the season, Gomes came out swinging right away going 7-for-19 in his first five starts. Since then though, it’s been a grind.

In his last six games, Gomes has a measly .048/.130/.095 slash line and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats, now leaving him with an underwhelming .200/.256/.300 slash line on the season.

The Nationals were hoping that Gomes could be their primary catcher this year as opposed to the split duties he shared with Kurt Suzuki the past two seasons.

However, they’ll need him to hit better or he might start losing out on some playing time to Alex Avila.

Adam Duvall: One of the more underrated additions by the Marlins this offseason, Duvall got off to a fairly hot start for his new team. Through his first nine games, he held a 1.067 OPS, culminating in a two-homer, seven-RBI game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.

Since that huge game against his former team on April 13th, Duvall is slashing just .140/.173/.200 in 52 plate appearances while striking out 23 times and walking just once.

The ice-cold outfielder will look to bounce back against the Nationals, a team he has slashed .281/.331/.578 against so far in his career.

From the opposing dugout

Check out some of the top Marlins storylines from our friends at Fish Stripes...

One more thing to watch

With the struggles of Josh Bell early in the season, manager Dave Martinez moved the slugging first baseman down to sixth in the lineup in the series finale against the Blue Jays. Partly to help stack the top of the lineup, partly to put less pressure on Bell’s performance.

Through his first 13 games, Bell had a slash line of .109/.192/.217 with just three extra-base hits and three RBIs, striking out 17 times and walking only four times.

On Wednesday though, there were signs of life. The first baseman went 1-for-4 with an opposite-field home run off of right-hander reliever Ty Tice and also got unlucky on a hard-hit flyball.

“It was great to see him get that home run,” Martinez told reporters after the series with the Blue Jays. “He had some good at-bats today.

“Like I said earlier, I just want him to relax, go out there and see some pitches and have some fun. Today, he took some really good swings today, and that was impressive.”

As to whether Bell’s performance would result in a bump up the lineup in the immediate future, the skipper didn’t suggest a move back up the batting order was likely just yet.

“We’ll see Friday,” Martinez said. “I want to keep him down there for a few days and try to get him going and jumpstart him a little bit, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Bell feels like he’s been so close to that breakout run for a week or two now. Hopefully, his performance on Wednesday can be the spark that gets him rolling and back into the top half of the order as one of the anchors of the Nationals’ lineup.