Opposite dugout: Marlins targeting second in NL East as regular season wraps

marlins-logo.jpgManager: Mike Redmond, second year Record: 76-82 Last 10 games: 4-6 Who to watch: CF Marcell Ozuna (.269/.317/.455, 26 doubles, 23 HR, 85 RBIs); LF Christian Yelich (.290/.368/.412, 30 doubles, 9 HR, 54 RBIs, 93 R, 21 SB); RHP Henderson Alvarez (12-6, 2.70 ERA, 1.22 WHIP); RHP Jarred Cosart (4-2, 2.29 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) Season series vs. Nats: 3-13, 43 runs scored, 84 runs allowed Pitching probables Sept. 26, Game 1: Jarred Cosart vs. Doug Fister, 1 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 26, Game 2: Andrew Heaney vs. Taylor Hill, 7 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 27: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Stephen Strasburg, 4 p.m., MASN HD Sept. 28: Henderson Alvarez vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 1:30 p.m., MASN HD Series breakdown As the Marlins arrive at the final weekend of the regular season, they can be proud of making a significant leap forward in 2014. After finishing with fewer than 70 wins in each of the last two years, Miami was at .500 in late August before losing Giancarlo Stanton and fading down the stretch. The Marlins have a chance to finish second in the National League East, trailing the Mets and Braves by a half-game with four games remaining. But the Nationals still have a goal to accomplish, even with the NL East title in tow. The Nats haven't yet clinched the NL's best record and lead the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games entering the weekend. The Nats are in complete control, however, needing one win to keep home-field advantage from the Dodgers. The Marlins will be hoping to make that difficult on Washington, starting this afternoon with the Nats' second doubleheader in as many days. The Marlins have been solid at the plate this season, ranking seventh in the NL with 629 runs, sixth with a .253 average, seventh with a .697 OPS and 10th with 121 homers. With Stanton sidelined, center fielder Marcell Ozuna is Miami's top threat, contributing 23 homers, 85 RBIs and a .772 OPS this season. Left fielder Christian Yelich is a multi-tool weapon. He leads all healthy Marlins with a .779 OPS while adding 30 doubles, nine homers, 54 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 21 steals. First baseman Garrett Jones (15 homers, 53 RBIs) and third baseman Casey McGehee (173 hits, 74 RBIs) have been among the team's top performers. Pitching-wise, Miami is 11th in the NL with a 3.77 team ERA, 12th with a 4.05 starters' ERA and sixth with a 3.27 bullpen ERA. In today's doubleheader, right-hander Jarred Cosart and left-hander Andrew Heaney will start against Doug Fister and Taylor Hill, the latter of whom will be making his first big league start. Cosart (13-10, 3.70 ERA) has improved markedly since being acquired from the Astros. He is 4-3 with a 2.29 ERA in nine starts with the Marlins, and is riding a streak of eight straight quality starts. During those eight outings, Cosart is 4-2 with a 1.84 ERA. In his last start, also against the Nats, he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. Heaney (0-3, 5.33 ERA) makes his first start since July 5. The 23-year-old rookie's last two appearances have come out of the bullpen with his last one being three scoreless innings against the Nats on Sept. 21. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (6-13, 4.44 ERA) pitches against Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. Eovaldi is coming off a solid start against the Nats, where he allowed two runs in six innings on Sept. 21. He had allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings (10.80 ERA) over his previous two starts. The Nats have a real challenge in their regular season finale, when Marlins ace Henderson Alvarez (12-6, 2.70 ERA) faces Jordan Zimmermann. Alvarez has the fifth-best ERA in the NL. The 24-year-old is pitching quite well over his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA. Against the Nats in his career, Alvarez is 1-3 with a 2.61 ERA in seven starts. It's conceivable that Alvarez ends up being the Nats' last roadblock to clinching the NL's best record. So this could be an exciting weekend in Washington as the Nats hope to accomplish a team first.

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