Manager: Don Mattingly (1st season)
Last 10 games: 0-2
Who to watch: RF Giancarlo Stanton (27 HR, 67 RBIs), 2B Dee Gordon (.333/.359/.418), 1B Justin Bour (23 HR, 73 RBIs), RHP Tom Koeler (11-14, 4.08 ERA), RHP A.J. Ramos (32 saves, 2.30 ERA) Note: Statistics from 2015
Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (9-10 in 2015)
Inside the Marlins:
There's a new sheriff in South Beach: former Yankees All-Star and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has taken the helm in Miami. Mattingly brings his 446-363 managerial record (.551) over five years as the Dodgers skipper to the Marlins. He never finished at or below .500 and won the National League West in each of his last three seasons in Los Angeles. He finished second in the NL Manager of the Year ballot in 2013, which was also the only season in which the Dodgers made it out of the National League Division Series in the playoffs, falling 4-2 to the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
So what does that say about Mattingly? Well, he wins, but not quite when it matters most. He had talent in L.A. and he has talent now in Miami. But questions did arise about how he dealt with that talent, most notably his relationship with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Now Mattingly manages the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, whose personality may not be as enthusiastic as Puig's, but who is no less of a superstar. However, Mattingly can't manage Stanton if the right fielder can't stay on the field.
Stanton is coming of the first year of his 13-year, $325 million contract extension in which he only played 74 games due to a fractured hamate bone in his left hand. He was supposed to miss only four to six weeks after surgery, but ended up missing the rest of the season - but still put up 27 home runs and 67 RBIs, impressive for a shortened campaign. Stanton launched a homer in his third at-bat of the season, so his hand may be fine.
Along with Stanton, Miami boasts a lineup that figures to help the Marlins finally contend this year, making the NL East no longer a two-team race between the Nationals and Mets. Dee Gordon slashed .333/.359/.418 last season, making the second baseman the only player in the NL who had a better batting average than MVP Bryce Harper. Left fielder Christian Yelich hit for a .300/.366/.416 clip last year to match Gordon, while first baseman Justin Bour tried to fill the void of Stanton's absence with 23 homers and 73 RBIs.
Left-hander Adam Conley, 25, made his major league debut last season, finishing 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA. His only outing against the Nationals came in an Aug. 28 start in D.C., when he pitched five innings and allowed three runs on six hits, including two home runs, but earned the win. Righty Tom Koehler led the Fish with an 11-14 record to go along with a 4.08 ERA. Koehler did not enjoy facing the Nationals last year, going just 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA in four starts and 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in two starts at Nats Park. Right-hander Jarred Cosart had a rollercoaster season last year, starting in the rotation, then going on the disabled list, being activated to work out of the bullpen and finally being sent back down to Triple-A. He finished 2-5 with a 4.52 ERA in just 14 major league appearances, but went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts against Washington.
The Marlins were a popular pick at the beginning of the season to be in the mix for the NL East at season's end. But questions linger over the club: Can Mattingly continue his winning ways? Can Stanton remain healthy? Can the Fish rely on Jose Fernandez and newcomer Wei-Yin Chen (who each allowed five earned runs in their season debuts, both Miami losses)? The Marlins first need to bounce back from a 0-2 start in D.C., where the Marlins went just 3-7 in 2015.