Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats Vs. Marlins (9/17-9/20)

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Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

 Jose Fernandez (5-0, 2.96) vs. Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.91) – 7:05 PM, MASN/MLB Network

The one positive for the Nationals going into this game tomorrow night is that the game will be played at Nats Park, not Marlins Park, where Fernandez is 16-0 in his career. Against the Nats on September 12, Fernandez went five innings, gave up no runs on two hits, struck out seven, and walked one in a 2-0 win.

While the 23-year-old right-hander has only made eight starts this season, he has yet to give up more than three runs in any of them. The Marlins have not rushed Fernandez in his recovery from his biceps injury as he only threw 76 pitches in his last outing. The Marlins want to see Fernandez end his season the right way, but they want him to be healthy along with Stanton heading into the 2016 season.

Fernandez is 3-0 with a 0.58 ERA in five starts against Washington, but none of those outings have come at Nats Park. Bryce Harper is 2-for-8 against him with three walks, but he has struck out four times. In the second half of the season, the only team that Max Scherzer has been able to beat is the Miami Marlins. Back on September 13, in the Nats only win of the series last weekend, Scherzer went eight innings, gave up no runs on five hits, struck out six, and did not walk anyone on 102 pitches.

Over the last 15 innings against Miami, Scherzer has given up eight hits, struck out 12, and walked three. The control has been much better for him as he has not walked a batter in four straight starts and five of his last six, but the key for him is to avoid giving up the long ball. Since the All-Star Break, Scherzer has given up 14 home runs in 11 starts.

In four starts against the Marlins this season, Scherzer is 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 30:3. Martin Prado is 9-for-19 against him in his career with two doubles, a home run, and two RBI’s.

Advantage: This is the one game out of the four that is must see TV because I expect this matchup to be a pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers have been great against the opposition this season. If Scherzer can avoid giving up the home run ball in this game, I like his chances. Plus, he will go longer in this game than Fernandez, which should give him the slightest of edges. Nats win 2-1.

Next: Saturday's Matchup