Miami Marlins vs Washington Nationals: Three stories

Jun 19, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) hits the game winning RBI single to defeat the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna (13) hits the game winning RBI single to defeat the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

As the calendar turns to late June, the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals clash for just the second time this year. 

Seems impossible to believe right? But it’s no typo- the Miami Marlins haven’t faced the Washington Nationals since the opening series of the 2017 season.

In terms of baseball mileage on our beloved ballclub, that has to feel like a lifetime ago. Very little has changed for the esteemed Nationals, except perhaps the MVP reawakening of Bryce Harper. They expected to be in first place, they are in first place.

The only true shock for them is the appalling extent to which the NL East has been a cakewalk.

The Marlins were never supposed to be the team nipping on the Nationals heels. That was the Mets job, and it’s one they’ve seemed uninterested in pursuing. But the Fish were supposed to at least be in the conversation. Unfortunately, the only conversation surrounding this team has been how soon can we expect them to start selling off parts.

That’s the biggest question for the Miami Marlins in this series: can they hit the reset button?

Dropping that Braves series, bungling it away after winning the opener, just didn’t sit well. Losses like that are the ones that make one think the Ken Rosenthal’s and Jon Heyman’s of the world might have a point when it comes to breaking up the band.

Because this wasn’t just about this weekend. This was about three, even four seasons of not being able to beat up on a Braves team that doesn’t match up.

Yesterday’s thrilling victory though helps to bring back some of the promise of this homestand though. So much so that I’m offering up this abbreviated rundown of the three stories, call it three questions even, I’ll be looking at over the next two games. Let’s dive in.

Was This Weekend Just A Braves Thing For Marlins?

So, to round off that mini Braves rant above, it really does feel like we can call this a thing at this point. This Miami Marlins roster, until they prove otherwise, has to be considered completely incapable of beating the Atlanta Braves. At the very least, incapable of winning a close game against them.

This series against Washington will help to answer whether or not this is the case. If the Marlins can take down the Nationals, then we’re talking about a team with the talent to beat anyone. The Braves would just happen to have them dead to rights.

The script was flipped here for a good chunk of franchise history. There were a lot of bad Marlins teams that always seemed capable of keeping things close against a pennant worthy Braves model.

Even winning still allows for the possibility that the club is maddeningly inconsistent, something that is perhaps more dangerous than being terrible. But I think that trumps the alternative of losing, which will only send more doubt snowballing into the Cubs series.

Will Volquez Recover, Repeat?

For the first ten starts of his 2017 campaign with the Miami Marlins, it looked like Edinson Volquez should have quit after Day 1.

On Opening Day, Volquez tossed five scoreless innings against a fearsome Nationals lineup. He looked dominant, exciting, worth signing. The season seemed capable of working out.

Unfortunately, the hyped-up bullpen collapsed rather spectacularly and he earned a no-decision. Even more unfortunately, he went on to lose 7 of his next 9 starts, and didn’t garner a win until May 29th.

He has been reborn since then though, at least until last Wednesday’s shellacking against Oakland. So Marlins would do well to watch to see if he can recover from that outing, and if he can maintain his early season mastery. If he does, it will arguably be his biggest win in a Marlins uniform.

Home Run Derby Prep?

Lastly, we need to acknowledge that the Miami Marlins are showing signs of deserving a Home Run Derby participant even if Giancarlo Stanton opts not to play.

Three Fish are tied at 18 HRs a piece, and health permitting, we have a real race on our hands. More on this later, but in many ways, this is the most exciting story going right now for Miami. Justin Bour and Marcell Ozuna are pounding the baseball with a fury, and wouldn’t it be great if in the first year Stanton finally eclipses 40 HRs, he’s not the only Marlin to do so?

Next: Marlins rally to be Nationals in thrilling game one

The Miami Marlins are on pace for that to be the case. Get out to the ballpark Marlin Maniacs, and be sure to bring your gloves if you’re sitting in the outfield.