Marlins @ Nationals Series Preview: When Will Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman Return?


As the Miami Marlins get ready to play on another rough road trip starting this afternoon, we reached out to the editor of District on Deck, Pablo Roa, to get some insight on a team surprisingly trailing the Marlins in the NL East, the Washington Nationals. DoD is one of the great Fansided sites, and they specialize in covering the Nationals. Pablo was kind enough to answer some questions that we had about the Nationals. Here was our conversation:

MM: What’s the latest on the Nationals injury front? How soon are Harper and Zimmerman going to rejoin the team?

Roa: While two key players have come off the disabled list in the last couple of weeks for the Nationals (Doug Fister and Adam LaRoche), two of the team’s best players, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, remain on the disabled list and will likely stay there for the foreseeable future. Harper recently had the stitches removed from his surgically repaired thumb but will still be out until at least early July. Zimmerman has been doing baseball activities, mainly catching fly balls in the outfield, but his fractured right thumb is not fully healed yet. Zimmerman has not been cleared to hit yet and probably won’t be back in the lineup for another few weeks. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who was placed on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation last weekend, has begun throwing on flat ground and should be back in the next couple of weeks.

Needless to say, the Nationals are still dealing with the same injury but they’ve had all season. However, things have improved drastically and LaRoche’s return should provide a major boost to the lineup. Hopefully the players who are healthy stay healthy and the Nationals will finally have the team they envisioned in the offseason on the field together in July.

MM: Stephen Strasburg has looked like his old self this season, after undergoing TJ surgery a few years back. What kind of timetable should the Marlins expect with Jose Fernandez?

Roa: Strasburg was out for just over a year, which is right around the usual 12-18 month recovery time for Tommy John surgery. While every pitcher is different and recovery times vary, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Fernandez could be back sometime around or after the All-Star break next season.

MM: Other than the injuries, why have the Nationals seemed to be such a major disappointment in 2014? Obviously there is plenty of time left, but do the Nats have what it takes to turn things around?

Roa: The biggest issue this season has been the offense. Specifically, the inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Time and time again the Nationals have runners on second and third with less than two outs and fail to drive them in. Obviously this issue is directly related to the injuries. It’s not easy to score runs when four of your best five hitters have spent considerable time on the disabled list. That being said, Zimmerman and Harper won’t be back anytime soon and if the Nationals want to stay in the race, they’re going to have to find a way to get the big hits without them.

MM: Can you preview the pitchers the Marlins will face this series? Any predictions on how the series will play out?

While the Marlins won’t get to face Strasburg or Gonzalez this time around, they’ll see three great pitchers who have been key to this year’s rotation for the Nationals. Today’s starter, Tanner Roark, after spending all of spring training fighting for a roster spot, has been an incredible asset for the Nationals this season, especially at home. Following Roark will be Blake Treinen, whom the Nationals called up to replace Gonzalez while he is on the disabled list. Although he hasn’t pitched many games this season, Treinen has adjusted seamlessly to major league hitters and boasts a 1.56 ERA. Jordan Zimmermann will get the start on Wednesday looking to return to his April form. After dominating early in the season, Zimmermann has allowed 12 runs in his last three starts.

I think the outcome of this series will depend on the Nationals’ offense. If the team manages to carry its momentum over from Sunday’s win and score more than three runs a game, coupled with strong pitching, I think they could take two out of three games from the Marlins.

There you have it. We want to thank Pablo for giving us such great insight into the Nats, and remember to check out District on Deck for all the latest Nationals’ news and notes. Hopefully the Marlins can end this skid they’ve had in Washington since last season: