The Miami Marlins would like to forget last week. After going 1-6, they remain in the Wildcard picture. They’ll need to reboot against the Nationals to stay there.
The Miami Marlins don’t have a lot of time to waste if they’re going to get themselves back into the playoff picture. They sit five games out, miraculously still within striking distance. But they’ll to get hot and stay hot to overcome the deficit.
A sweep at the hands of the Nationals is what started the tailspin in the first place. There is little room for error moving forward.
Miami opens a three-game series at home against Washington on Monday night.
Jump-starting the offense
The Miami Marlins lineup has powered them all the way back to playoff relevancy. It appears that the Fish will live by the bat, and die by the bat. The lineup went cold against a poor rotation of Phillies pitchers. They’ll need to do better against a supremely betters Nationals team.
The first game of the series was slated to be a rematch against Nationals pitcher Stephen Strausburg. The power righty with a devastating bender kept the Marlins at bay in spectacular fashion last time they faced each other.
He threw his first complete game of the season, allowing no runs to score and only walking one batter. Strasburg managed to scatter six hits, and the Marlins never threatened in a 4-0 loss.
According to a report on ESPN, Nationals manager Dusty Baker is scratching Strasburg from the start, inserting A.J. Cole instead. Strasburg appears to be a healthy scratch, and the decision is likely precautionary.
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The Nationals are already heading to the playoffs. Strasburg’s start against the Marlins was only his third since returning from the disabled list with a forearm injury.
Cole has made five starts for the Nationals this season, pitching to an average game score of 50. Remarkably average. He’s managed to go at least five innings in all of his starts, two of which came against the Marlins.
Red hot and Cole
There is reasonable hope that the Marlins will be able to get at Cole for a few runs this game. In his previous starts against the Marlins, which came in early August, the Fish tagged him well. Consecutive game scores of 36, and 45 were the lowest he’s had all year.
Miami managed to post five earned runs against him on August 2nd, then four on August 8th. They won both games.
Since then, Cole has pitched better. His last start against the Mets was his best, allowing only one run over six innings while striking out eight.
The Miami Marlins catch a break with a healthy scratch of Stephen Strausburg. Instead, they draw A.J. Cole. They’ll need to jump on him early and score often. Otherwise the clock on their Wildcard run could continue to tick in the wrong direction.