After taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field and finishing a nine-game road trip with just a 3-6 record, the Miami Marlins return home for seven games beginning with three against the Washington Nationals. Prior to taking the series in Chicago, the Marlins had lost five straight series. Miami begins the homestand with Washington before facing the Atlanta Braves for four games.
The Marlins enter Friday with a 52-86 record which is the worst in the National League. The good news for Miami is that Jose Fernandez will be on the mound Friday in what will be his next-to-last start. The homestand will feature that final two starts of what has been an outstanding rookie season for Fernandez. At home this season, Fernandez is 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
Offensively, Miami is still the worst team in baseball, but outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Christian Yelich have each been hot of late. Ruggiano is hitting .308 in his last 10 games with a pair of home runs and four RBIs. On the recent road trip, Yelich hit .333 with a pair of home runs and five runs driven in.
The Washington Nationals enter the series in second place in the National League East with a 71-68 record. Playoff hopes however, appear very slim for Washington as the Nats are seven games out of the final wild card spot with only 23 games to play.
Washington recently took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies in a series where Jordan Zimmermann recorded his 16th win which has tied him for the National League lead. The Marlins will not see Zimmermann nor Gio Gonzalez in the series, but will have to face Stephen Strasburg on Sunday.
While the Nationals are in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, Washington has gotten big years from Jason Werth and Ian Desmond. Werth is fourth in the N.L. with a .320 batting average and leads the Nationals with 21 home runs. Desmond is in the midst of a career-year hitting .285 with 20 home runs and a team-high 69 RBIs.
While the season has not gone as planned for either club, the Marlins will need just three wins over their final 24 games to avoid being the worst team in franchise history. Miami can also avoid losing 100 games with an 11-13 finish to the season.
Washington won’t be able to defend its National League East title, but will need to go just 9-14 for the remainder of the year to notch a third straight 80-win season.
The clubs will play night games on Friday and Saturday with first pitches coming at 7:10 P.M. eastern time before the series concludes with a 1:10 start on Sunday.
Washington leads 9-3. Washington has won all six meetings in the nation’s capital, but the teams are an even 3-3 in South Florida. In the final series before the All-Star break, Miami took two of three from Washington at Marlins Park. The Nationals completed a three-game sweep of Miami when the teams met most recently, just over a week ago in D.C. Washington won the three games by a combined 13-4 margin.
Friday – Dan Haren (WAS) 8-12, 5.02 ERA vs. Jose Fernandez (MIA) 10-6, 2.33 ERA
Saturday – Tanner Roark (WAS) 4-0, 1.19 ERA vs. Nate Eovaldi (MIA) 3-5, 3.40 ERA
Sunday – Stephen Strasburg (WAS) 6-9, 2.85 ERA vs. Justin Turner (MIA) 3-5, 3.13 ERA