The Miami Marlins kick off their first divisional series today as they take on the Washington Nationals in Nationals Park. The Marlins are currently leading the N.L. East (man, that feels great to type) with a 5-2 record. Washington is nipping at their heels with a 4-2 mark. It was certainly great winning both series against the Rockies and Padres, but this will be an interesting test for the young Fish. The first two games will be at 7:05 PM EST, with the finale being held at 4:05 PM EST on Thursday.
The forecast is looking pretty great for the D.C. area for the entire series. According to the weather channel, there is virtually no chance for a rainout any of the three days, and high’s are forecasted to be in the low to mid 60′s with lows in the mid-40′s. Expect the evening games to be played in the mid-50′s with the Thursday afternoon game at 65 degrees.
Fox Sports Florida will broadcast the first two games on TV, but if you want to watch the series finale, you will have to switch over to the MASN network and catch the Nationals broadcast of it. Of course all three games will be broadcast on the radio dial by tuning into AM 940 WINZ. Glenn Geffner is one of the best in the business and will be sure to bring you a great call of the game.
The Nationals have a talented team, there are few people that would dispute that, yet they are not a team without worry. Bryce Harper has gotten off to a slow start, admitting that he was feeling “lost” at the plate, according to ESPN. That, coupled with Ryan Zimmerman‘s apparent case of the throwing yips, are cause for concern in D.C..
The true strength of this team lies with their dynamic starting rotation. Washington has three “aces” on their staff, two of which the Marlins will see during this series. Miami will need to patient, working counts, and attempting to get into a bullpen early that can be suspect.
Timely hitting will be important for the Fish, something that they have excelled at so far this season. Posting a solid RISP average will go a long way to securing victories during this series. Miami will be forced to rely on the bottom 3 of their rotation, including Alvarez and Turner who were roughed up their first outings. Strong bounce-back performances are necessary for them.
After winning the first two series, the Fish will have their work cut out for them in this one. Gio Gonzalez is as tough a lefty as they come, although the Marlins have hit crafty lefties well thus far this season. I am predicting a Nationals win though, due to the fact that we are sending Alvarez to the hill, and he was pretty bad his last outing. Our best chance to win a game this series is likely the middle game which will see Jacob Turner taking on Tanner Roark. Roark is certainly the weakest of the three pitchers we will face, and Turner may be able to out-duel him.
If I could go to only one of these three games, I would certainly choose the matinee. Zimmermann is a power pitcher with excellent stuff, and Tom Koehler is pitching as well as anyone not named Jose Fernandez on the Marlins. I think this will be a low scoring affair that the Nationals will pull off for the series victory.