The Miami Marlins are not playing good baseball as of now. The teams hitting has not played well at all, scoring just 20 runs in their first 12 ball games. That’s a putrid average of just 1.67 runs a night. The Marlins scored just four runs in their most recent series loss to the Phillies. The good news for the Marlins is that they did not get swept again.
The Marlins will be playing the Washington Nationals for the second time early this season. The Marlins main goal in this series will be to win a game, as the Nationals swept the Marlins in the season opening series. The team gets a huge break, as they miss Stephen Strasburg and Miami native Gio Gonzalez.
Apr 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) wipes his brow as catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) talks after giving up three runs to the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Nationals have gone just 4-5 since they swept the Nationals, including getting swept by the red hot Justin Upton and Atlanta Braves. They will also be looking for a bounce back series in Miami.
To preview the series between the Marlins and Nationals, I had an email chat with Andrew Flax, the editor of District on Deck, the Fansided Washington Nationals site. Andrew and his staff do an excellent job of covering everything Nationals related. Be sure to check out the questions I answered for Andrew on his site as well.
Andrew and I chatted about everything from the recent struggles of the Nationals to the potential killing of “the wave” at Major League baseball games.
Without any further ado, here is my chat with Justin:
Ehsan Kassim: The Nationals started the season by sweeping the Marlins, but have gone just 4-5 since. What has been the issue with the Nationals as of late?
Andrew Flax: I honestly don’t know what to say for this one. It’s been every part of the team. We got blown out 15-0 in Cincinnati, being outplayed in every phase of the game. We beat the Reds in extras, but lost to them again 6-3 when Stephen Strasburg struggled. Against Atlanta, everything went wrong. We blew a 4-1 lead in the first game when the bullpen coughed up five runs in three innings. Then we lost 3-1 thanks to Tim Hudson and two unearned runs on a Ryan Zimmerman error. Then they beat us up 9-0 when Gio Gonzalez struggled and the offense couldn’t get anything going. Every phase of the game was a struggle, but I’m confident the team can turn it around.
Ehsan: With Wilson Ramos headed to the disabled list, who is getting the call to the majors and what is the situation behind the plate for the Nats?
Andrew: Ramos and Kurt Suzuki had been splitting time behind the plate, which means Suzuki will be taking over on a full-time basis. As our backup, we’re calling up Jhonatan Solano from AAA. Fun fact: Solano’s nickname is Onion because he rode an onion truck to his MLB tryout.
Ehsan: Saw a Nationals fan is trying to kill “the wave” at baseball games. What are your thoughts on this and how soon can we get rid of it?
Andrew: I love the “Kill The Wave” campaign, and I love the national traction the movement has gained. These fans have been vocal about it for a while, but getting a flyer together was obviously big for its attention. Apparently the movement has been brought to the attention of the Nat Pack, aka our in-stadium cheerleaders, and I have yet to see the Wave at any Nats game this year. It looks like the Nats are having a lot of success in killing it, and it’s up to other teams to take up the initiative to end it once and for all.
Apr 12, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Ehsan: Bryce Harper is a monster, plain and simple. Do you think he can get much better than he already is?
Andrew: I absolutely think he can get better. His arm and glove might be as good as they’ll ever be, and his speed will probably decline as he gets bigger and older, but if he works on his contact skills, he’ll be unstoppable. He has had some trouble making solid contact consistently, but he annihilates the ball when he does. His average can improve, but the raw power you’re seeing is what he has to offer.
Ehsan: Ryan Zimmerman has struggled at the plate and on the field in 2013, any idea what his issues are this season? Can they be resolved quick enough for the Nats to start playing well again?
Andrew: I’m not particularly concerned about his batting. He has yet to hit a home run, but a .243 average isn’t a major problem given how early it is in the season. His fielding is a different story, however. He reformed his throwing motion after offseason surgery and hasn’t had the same accuracy since. His error was critical in the second loss to Atlanta, and it’s as clear as ever that he has a serious problem. I think he can fix it, given that he’s a veteran who’s smart enough to fix a problem he has. Even if he’s a tad less accurate than usual, though he’s worse than that right now, I think the Nationals can play well despite his fielding. If, down the road, he still struggles with defense, it’s possible that he’ll be moved over to first base when Adam LaRoche‘s contract expires in two years and top prospect Anthony Rendon will be plugged in at third. That plan is a bit drastic, but could be in play if Zimmerman can’t improve.
Ehsan: Make a bold prediction for this series, can the Marlins crack the three run barrier this series?
Andrew: Boldly, I will predict that the Marlins will indeed break that barrier. After getting smacked around by Atlanta, the Nationals will be looking for vengeance, and Miami will look like a suitable punching bag, but you’ll face our 3-4-5 starters. Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler have been stellar thus far, so don’t expect much off them, but Dan Haren has struggled. Between him and the bullpen, I expect a few runs for Miami, just maybe not enough to win.
A big thank you to Andrew for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Nationals fans the best of luck in the upcoming series. If you get a chance, please check out District on Deck for some of the best Nationals content on the internet. Also, check out All Over the Hill, the Fansided site for all Washington sports related news.