Manager: Don Mattingly (1st season)
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: 3B Martin Prado (.386/.413/.465), LF Christian Yelich (.325/.439/.509 with 4 HR, 16 RBIs), RF Giancarlo Stanton (10 HR, 24 RBIs), RHP Jose Fernandez (4-2, 3.54 ERA, 58 K's), RHP A.J. Ramos (1.38 ERA, 10 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: 3-3
May 13: RHP Tom Koehler vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
May 14: LHP Justin Nicolino vs. RHP Stephen Stasburg, 1:05 p.m., MASN
May 14: RHP Kendry Flores vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
May 15: RHP Jose Fernandez vs. RHP Joe Ross, 1:35 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Marlins:
About a month ago, my colleague Pete Kerzel laid out what was essentially a three-piece recipe for the Marlins to end a 12-year postseason drought in Don Mattingly's first season at the helm. The first piece was second baseman Dee Gordon getting on base, stealing bases and scoring runs. The Marlins have now lost that piece for almost half the season and the postseason, if they are to qualify.
Gordon was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball on April 29 for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in spring training. Although he said in a statement that he did not knowingly take PEDs, Gordon still accepted his suspension. After signing a five-year, $50 million extension in January, the speedy leadoff man will now reportedly lose about $1.65 million in salary and have to sit out the playoffs, again should the Marlins make it to October.
The Marlins haven't abandoned ship though. The suspension came near the end of an eventual seven-game winning streak on the road, and the Marlines are 8-4 since. So without Gordon, the Fish just moved on to pieces two and three: Giancarlo Stanton hitting baseballs far and Joe Fernandez throwing them fast. Stanton is tied with Bryce Harper and two others for fourth in the National League with 10 home runs. Fernandez, who allowed one run on three hits and struck out nine against the Nats on April 18, is tied with Stephen Strasburg for the fourth-most strikeouts in the NL with 58. Fernandez will take his 4-2 record and 3.54 ERA to the hill for Sunday's finale.
Meanwhile, Derek Dietrich has taken over for Gordon as the Marlins' everyday leadoff hitter and second baseman. Dietrich has done well so far, slashing .325/.400/.550 since filling in but has only scored three runs. Left fielder Christian Yelich is putting together a nice slash line of .325/.439/.509 to go along with his four homers and 16 RBIs. Look for catcher J.T. Realmuto (.302 with 11 RBIs), center fielder Marcell Ozuna (.295 with six homers and 17 RBIs) and first baseman Justin Bour (.283 with five homers and 17 RBIs) to be solid contributors to the Marlins offense as well.
Right-hander Tom Koehler starts this four-game series tonight, which is being compressed into three days with a split doubleheader tomorrow from the rained out game on April 9. Koehler is bringing his 2-3 record and 5.83 ERA to his third start against the Nationals this season. He gave up two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in a loss at Nats Park on April 10, but then came back with five innings of one-run, two-hit ball in a home win on April 21. Left-hander Justin Nicolino will start Game 1 of the twinbill tomorrow, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA over his first three starts. The Nationals roughed up Nicolino for seven runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in his only start against the club on Sept. 20, 2015. The Marlins haven't announced their starter for Game 2 for tomorrow night, but MLB.com is reporting they could bring up right-hander Kendry Flores from Triple-A New Orleans. The 24-year-old Dominican Republic native is the Marlins' fifth-ranked prospect (third-ranked pitcher) according to MLBPipeline.com.
The Marlins are coming in hot to D.C., having won 13 of thelr last 17 games since starting out 6-11. They are making their three-piece plan work even without Gordon, which has them above .500 and only three games back from first place in the NL East.