Opposite dugout: Marlins' big numbers don't show in their record

marlins-logo.jpgManager: Don Mattingly (2nd season)

Record: 52-57

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: RF Giancarlo Stanton (36 home runs), LF Marcell Ozuna (26 homers, 87 RBIs), 2B Dee Gordon (40 stolen bases), CF Christian Yelich (24 doubles, 9 stolen bases), C J.T. Realmuto (.306 average), Brad Zeigler (6.10 ERA, 2 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 5-4

Pitching probables:

Aug. 7: LHP Chris O'Grady vs. RHP Max Scherzer, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 8: RHP Vance Worley vs. RHP A.J. Cole, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 9: LHP Adam Conley vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 10: RHP Dan Straily vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 7:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Marlins:

Didn't we just do this? Yeah, last week in Miami, when the Nationals dropped two of three games to the Marlins. But although they hold a winning record against the division leaders as they come to D.C., the Fish face long odds against catching the Nats. The Marlins hold second place in the National League East, but trail the Nationals by 13 games. That they've traded away their 20-save closer for prospects provides a pretty strong sign that their focus has gone beyond 2017.

The Marlins' record sank below the .500 mark in late April and hasn't been back there since, a bit surprising when you note that the club's stars are among the league leaders in RBIs, home runs and stolen bases. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (.277/.370/.610), of course, leads the major leagues in homers with 36 (but only one of those has come off Nationals pitching). Fellow All-Star Marcell Ozuna (.306/.364/.553) is enjoying a breakout season, hitting both right-handed and left-handed pitching at better than .300. Ozuna was the chief beneficiary of Max Scherzer's early exit last Tuesday, getting three hits - including a home run - off Nationals relievers. Catcher J.T. Realmuto (.306/.366/.489) is keeping pace with his 2016 average of .303. Second baseman Dee Gordon (.297/.340/.362) trails only Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton for the major league lead in stolen bases. Nationals pitchers and catchers also need to pay attention to center fielder Christian Yelich (.280/.362/.435) on the basepaths. At age 43, Ichiro Suzuki (.233/.297/.308) might be in the twilight of his storied career, and he certainly isn't collecting base hits the way he did in his prime. But when the pitcher's spot in the order rolls around in the late innings, we might just see a flash old master's magic.

In tonight's opener, lefty Chris O'Grady (2-1, 5.40 ERA) makes his sixth start for the Marlins since being called up from Triple-A a month ago. His most recent came in Miami on Aug. 1, when the Nats chased him early, scoring seven runs (six earned) and hitting two home runs over O'Grady's three innings of work. The lefty turned in his best effort to date the week before, also at home, scattering five hits over seven innings to earn a win against the Reds. Journeyman Vance Worley (1-2, 5.31 ERA) presents an intriguing storyline for Tuesday's tilt. Signed by the Nats in the offseason but released before opening day, Worley has worked mostly out of the Marlins bullpen but made some unimpressive starts in late May and early June, and again in late July, plugging holes in a banged-up Miami rotation. But last Wednesday, from out of nowhere came a seven-inning gem against the Nationals in which Worley gave up just two hits while striking out three on his way to his first victory of 2017. Wednesday starter Adam Conley (4-4, 5.10 ERA) builds his work around a four-seamer that has average velocity but good movement, and a slider that induces a lot of ground balls.

The day after the Marlins dealt closer A.J. Ramos to the Mets on July 28, 37-year-old Brad Ziegler returned from the disabled list and inherited the job. He has converted both save opportunities he's had so far, the first coming Aug. 1 against the Nats. The sidearmer's high water mark came in 2015, when notched 30 saves while posting a 1.85 ERA for the Diamondbacks.

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