Series Preview: Washington Nationals


Coming off a disappointing final game of an otherwise tightly-contested four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Florida Marlins now head back home and set their sights on a pair of NL East foes. To start things off, the Marlins will battle the Washington Nationals, which of course always prompts the Maniac to think the following:

“Nothing gets you feeling better as a Marlins fan than a set of games against the Nationals.”

Hopefully, that trend continues starting tonight with our weekly (hopefully again) Marlin Maniac Live Game Chat featured game.

Washington Nationals (14-17) @ Florida Marlins, May 6-8, Games 31-33

NL East Standings

Tm W L Win% GB
PHI 21 9 .700
FLA 19 11 .633 2.0
ATL 18 15 .545 4.5
WSN 14 17 .452 7.5
NYM 13 18 .419 8.5

Stadium: Sun Life Stadium
Five-year Run PF*: 1.01
Five-year HR PF*: 0.97
Stadium Dimensions:
Left Field: 330 ft.
Left-Center: 361
Center Field: 404
Right-Center: 361
Right Field: 345

*Five-year regressed park factors provided by Patriot here

Projected Pitching Matchups

May 6: Ricky Nolasco vs. Jordan Zimmermann
May 7: Chris Volstad vs. Tom Gorzelanny
May 8: Anibal Sanchez vs. Livan Hernandez

ZiPS In-Season Projections

ERA Proj. FIP Win% Marlins Date Nationals Win% Proj. FIP ERA
3.35 3.39 .590 Nolasco May 6 Zimmerman .560 3.63 4.29
6.00 4.40 .471 Volstad May 7 Gorzelanny .526 3.91 2.93
4.15 3.61 .563 Sanchez May 8 Hernandez .524 3.93 3.57

Projected Lineup

Lineup Player Current wOBA Proj. wOBA v. RHP Proj. wOBA v. LHP
1 Chris Coghlan .336 .352 .322
2 Omar Infante .267 .318 .328
3 Hanley Ramirez .266 .373 .393
4 Gaby Sanchez .388 .345 .370
5 Mike Stanton .366 .351 .368
6 John Buck .314 .317 .343
7 Emilio Bonifacio .376 .303 .303
8 Greg Dobbs / Wes Helms .361 /  .308 .315 .309

Quick Hits

This series’s Quick Hits questions (and answers) come courtesy of Scott Stewart of the newly rebranded FanSided Nationals blog District on Deck. DOD has some top notch writers covering all aspects of Nationals baseball, so it’s a definite must-stop for Nationals fans and persons of interest. Here were my three questions to Scott and his responses.

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1. The Nationals made a big splash this past offseason with the signing of Jayson Werth. How has he performed so far this season, and what does he need to do to improve?

I’ve heard some people in the area talk a little harshly at times when it comes to Werth but I’m not going to be one of those people. Has he done what I would hope for and expect out of him hitting wise? No, but at the same time, going in to the series with the Marlins there is still 131 games left to go which is plenty of time to turn it around. Plus, to be fair they are without [Ryan] Zimmerman and the only person not struggling at the plate right now is Wilson Ramos. So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being when it comes to his hitting.

I have been impressed with fielding though and have witnessed him making some amazing catches and even a couple impressive throws from the out field as well. So I am happy with what he has brought to the team defensively.

As for what he can do to improve well his biggest problem is he has not been able to hit on a consistent basis which is something I think time and working with the batting coach more will straighten out. He is a proven bat so I’m not too worried about him yet as a player.

2. How is it possible that the Nationals can still run LIvan Hernandez out there every fifth game? I could have sworn he was finished as early as four seasons ago.

I know its amazing right? Honestly when I saw they were bringing him back to start the 2010 season I did not expect much from him but he left me pleasantly surprised having pitched over 200 innings last season with an era in the mid 3′s. And now here we are in 2011 and he is doing it again by pitching deep into games and giving the team a chance to win just about every time he steps on to the mound.

I don’t know if he just studies the heck out of batters or if its just that veteran savvy that he brings to the mound but he is getting it done and doing it with a fastball that stays around 85 mph.

3. What’s the status on Ryan Zimmerman now, and how has his absence affected the Nationals on offense and defense?

Well he just had the surgery on the 3rd to repair a rectus tear in his abdomen and the very next day was on the treadmill at Citizen’s Bank Park. Granted it took him 30 minutes to do a mile but just the fact that he was on the treadmill and finished a mile could be taken as a positive sign. He came back to Washington on the 5th to begin a full rehabilitation process and if all goes well could be back in the Nats lineup as soon as June 14th according to the six week timetable that was given. Personally I just hope to see him get back to full health and am not too worried about an exact timetable for his return.

As for how his absence has affected the Nationals lineup from an offensive standpoint, well he is the Nationals best hitter so it definitely affects the team a whole lot. As of right now the only Nationals player who his hitting on a consistent basis is Wilson Ramos so the Nationals are missing Zimmerman’s bat right now.

Now defensively he is a legit gold glove caliber player so I won’t say that he is not missed at all but he is missed less defensively than he is offensively because guys like Jerry Hairston, Alex Cora, and Brian Bixler have filled in with some pretty good defense in his absence. The Nats have the guys to get through the next six weeks defensively but Hairson, Cora and Bixler combined can’t come close to what Zim brings to the team offensively.

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I’d like to thank Scott for his time in giving me responses to those three questions. Once he posts his preview, I’ll link my responses to his three very compelling questions as well.

Notes

- As mentioned above, the Marlins will be missing Ryan Zimmerman this time around, as he is recovering from a rectus abdominus tear and is out six weeks. That’s a big help to a Fish rotation and bullpen that has struggled as of late and is sending (admittedly good) question marks in Nolasco, Volstad, and Sanchez out to the mound.

- Speaking of Sanchez, which one are we going to see this weekend? You know the Marlins will randomly struggle versus Livan Hernandez, but you have to hope that Sanchez will duel him strongly. However, you never know which Sanchez you’re going to get, or at least that has been the case this season. He’s mixed in two horrific starts amidst three excellent ones, and hopefully the Fish get the good version of Sanchez this time around.

- The race for worst hitter on the team continues this week. After the Cardinals series, Hanley Ramirez leads by a hair over Omar Infante even though both guys had decent series. Out of the two, I’m hoping Hanley comes out big against the trio the Nationals are sending out.

- Speaking of that trio, they are a pretty decent set of pitchers. Tack on Jason Marquis and you have a quartet of solid starters for the Nationals, which is a far cry from what they boasted not one or two seasons ago. In particular, I’d like to see Jordan Zimmerman and Tom Gorzelanny succeed, as both are young and interesting pitchers. This will be one scary rotation when Stephen Strasburg returns next season.

Bold Prediction: Marlins win two of three games.

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Tags: Anibal Sanchez Hanley Ramirez Miami Marlins Omar Infante Ryan Zimmerman Washington Nationals. Livan Hernandez