After a crucial win against the Braves on Sunday and a much-needed day off on Monday, the Washington Nationals return to action tonight as they take on the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. Washington is 4-2 on the season and is looking for a big series against the Fish with another matchup against the Braves looming at the end of the week.
Given how this past weekend’s series against the Braves went, the Nationals are hoping for nothing short of a sweep against a ball club that has gotten off to a surprising start. The Marlins, 5-2, are coming off a series win against the San Diego Padres but lost their final game against the Friars on Sunday.
Fortunately for the Nationals they will not have to face the Marlins’ superduperstar pitcher, Jose Fernandez. Instead, the Nationals will send two of their ‘big three’ starters against three Marlins pitchers who are good, but nowhere near Fernandez good.
Gio Gonzalez (1-0) will get the start for the Nationals tonight as he looks to build on a strong season debut last week in which he allowed just one run over six innings of work. Gonzalez was reportedly fighting the flu over the weekend but given the off day, his condition is unlikely to affect his status for today’s game. The Marlins will counter with right-hander Henderson Alvarez (0-1), who gave up six runs to the Colorado Rockies his last time out.
Following Gonzalez will be Tanner Roark (1-0), who will take on Marlins’ right-hander Jacob Turner (0-0) tomorrow night. Roark is coming off of a strong season debut in which he gave up two runs over five innings of work against the Mets on Friday after replacing Jordan Zimmermann, who was scratched before the game due to flu-like symptoms.
The Nationals will send last year’s 19-game winner Jordan Zimmermann (0-0) to the mound Thursday afternoon for the final game of the series before heading off to Atlanta later that night. Zimmermann appeared to be in midseason form his first time out, giving up one run over five solid innings of work. Miami will counter with right-hander Tom Koehler (1-0).
While playing the Marlins is not exactly the same as playing the Braves, the Nationals must treat this series as if it were a September series against a difficult opponent. This past weekend proved just how important it is to beat the teams that you know you can beat and that tougher challenges are always right behind those “easier” teams. Sure, the Nationals took one game against the Braves, but what would have happened if the team had not swept the Mets right before the series against Atlanta??
It’s impossible to predict what will happen against the Braves later this week, but for now, all the Nationals can do is focus on the task at hand. Because if the team can take care of business against the Marlins in this series at home, then Friday’s visit to Turner Field will seem much, much less ominous.
Tags: Washington Nationals