Opposite dugout: Marlins and Nats get familiar as regular season nears conclusion

marlins-logo.jpgManager: Mike Redmond, second year Record: 74-77 Last 10 games: 5-5 Who to watch: CF Marcell Ozuna (.270/.318/.456, 25 doubles, 23 HR, 85 RBIs); 3B Casey McGehee (.292/.362/.365, 28 doubles, 4 HR, 70 RBIs); RHP Jarred Cosart (4-2, 2.05 ERA, 1.01 WHIP); RHP Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats: 5-6, 48 runs scored, 56 runs allowed Pitching probables Sept. 18: Brad Hand vs. Gio Gonzalez, 7 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 19: Tom Koehler vs. Doug Fister, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD Sept. 20: Jarred Cosart vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 7 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 21: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Stephen Strasburg, 1 p.m., MASN2 HD Series breakdown The Nationals and Marlins will be seeing a whole lot of each other over the next week and a half, as the two teams wrap the regular season by meeting for eight of their last 11 games. The first of the National League East rivals' two remaining four-game series begin tonight in Miami. The Marlins have played the Nats well this season, going 5-6 against the NL East champs by winning four of the last five meetings. But this time, they'll have to do it without their leader, NL MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the NL with 37 homers and ranks second with 105 RBIs. Miami officially shut Stanton down for the season on Wednesday and expects him to be ready for spring training after he was hit in the face by a pitch last Thursday. The Marlins have gone 3-3 since losing Stanton, averaging three runs per game. But they've won three of their last four, scoring at least four runs in each of the victories. Even though Stanton was the Marlins' most productive bat, they've been solid at the plate this season with depth behind him. Miami ranks seventh in the NL with 613 runs, eighth with 120 homers, fifth with a .254 average and seventh with a .701 OPS. Center fielder Marcell Ozuna is tied for eighth in the NL with 23 homers and ranks ninth with 85 RBIs. He also has 25 doubles and a .774 OPS. Third baseman Casey McGehee might not have a lot of power with only four homers, but he's fourth in the NL with 169 hits, is tied for the team lead with a .292 average and ranks third on the club with 70 RBIs and a .362 on-base percentage. Left fielder Christian Yelich is tied for the team lead with a .292 average and 89 runs scored while ranking second with a .787 OPS. He has 27 doubles, six triples, nine homers, 54 RBIs and a team-high 20 steals in 133 games. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is tied for second in the NL with 10 triples. The Marlins have had trouble on the mound for much of the year, ranking 12th in the NL with a 3.82 team ERA and 13th with a 4.07 starters' ERA. They've been better lately with a 3.56 team ERA since the All-Star break. The bullpen has been solid all year, ranking seventh in the NL with a 3.38 ERA. The Marlins have seven relievers that have posted ERAs of 3.27 or better in at least 29 appearances. As luck has it, the only starter Miami that won't pitch in the series is ace Henderson Alvarez. Left-hander Brad Hand (3-7, 4.36 ERA) faces Gio Gonzalez in tonight's opener. Hand has pitched back-to-back quality starts, allowing two runs in 12 innings for a 1.50 ERA. But he has struggled against the Nats, going 0-4 with a 7.48 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts). Right-hander Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.71 ERA) is slated to start against Doug Fister in the second game of the series. The 28-year-old has been consistent for the Marlins, allowing three runs or fewer in 11 of 12 starts since July 7. He has been quite good of late, allowing exactly two earned runs in each of his last four starts, pitching to a 3.00 ERA. He's 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts against the Nats. Right-hander Jarred Cosart (13-9, 3.67 ERA) pitches the third game. Cosart has been outstanding since being acquired from the Astros on July 31, going 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts with the Marlins. The 24-year-old has thrown seven straight quality starts, during which time he has a 1.52 ERA. He allowed two runs in six innings in his only career start against the Nats. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (6-12, 4.48 ERA) starts the series finale. He is the only starter in the series who comes in struggling. The 24-year-old has allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings for a 10.80 ERA over his last two starts. He also hasn't performed well against Washington, going 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA in five career starts. The Marlins do have something to play for, as they have yet to be eliminated from the wild card race. They're an unlikely candidate, with their elimination number down to five. Miami trails the Pirates by seven games for the second wild card with 11 games to play. The Nats also have a goal - finishing with the NL's best record and home field advantage for their first two playoff series. But they'll also be balancing what's best for their starters heading into the playoffs and won't be quite as worried about results with a playoff spot wrapped up.

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