FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Hello from sunny (at the moment) Florida, where the Nationals begin a three-game series with the Marlins tonight at 7:05. There’s a big storm sweeping up the East Coast that could lead to some rain tonight, but we’re dry for the time being. I’ll keep you posted.
As we discussed this morning, the Nationals haven’t exactly fared well against the Marlins in recent years. They’ve lost 39 of 53 against Florida since 2008. And while they’ve got some new additions to their roster who haven’t been part of the long-running funk, those players don’t offer much reason for renewed hope against Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who starts tonight.
Jayson Werth, who’s faced Sanchez 19 times, has been about as bad against him as he’s been against any pitcher in his career. Of the pitchers Werth has logged more than 10 plate appearances against, he’s got the sixth-lowest OPS (.263) against Sanchez.
(In case you were curious about some other names on that list: The pitcher who has held Werth to the second-lowest OPS on that list is Chris Volstad, who starts for the Marlins on Wednesday. Javier Vazquez, another Marlins starter, is seventh, and Josh Johnson, who starts Thursday for Florida, is 16th. For all the reasons the Nationals got Werth, changing their luck against the Marlins probably wasn’t the biggest one. It should be noted, though, that Werth has battered most of Florida’s relievers.)
Things don’t get much better with Adam LaRoche, who has also faced Sanchez 19 times and has a meager .594 OPS against him. Rick Ankiel has a 1.267 OPS against Sanchez, though he’s only faced him six times in two games. And Ankiel is the only player in the Nationals’ presumptive lineup tonight with an OPS better than .700 against Sanchez.
Luck can change at any time, and there are plenty of Nationals with decent numbers against Florida relievers, should they be able to knock Sanchez out early. But the 27-year-old Venezuelan looked like he was finally putting everything together last year, and he’ll represent a tough start to the Nationals’ road schedule tonight.