Series #1 Preview: Nationals vs. Marlins

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First off, Happy Opening Day! It has been 170 days very, very long days since Game Five of the National League Divisional Series (NLDS) between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals. Most devoted Nationals fans have gone through at least one, if not all, of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), but thankfully the 2013 baseball season is here and the Nats are in an even better position to compete for the World Series than they were at any point than they were during the 2012 campaign.

Since last off-season’s spending spree that brought in a lot of high price talent prior to the 2012 season, the Marlins have sold, traded or cut everyone acquired during that time period. With the exception of Giancarlo Stanton the Marlins are devoid of much offensive power. Stanton finished the 2012 season with career highs in home runs (37), batting average (.290), on-base percentage (.361) and slugging percentage (.608). Along with trading away most of its talent, the Marlins also cut its payroll in half and start the season with seven players on the disabled list. It will likely be a long season The Marlins rookie manager, Mike Redmond.

While starting off against the Marlins would normally be considered a good thing; the Marlins have had the Nats’ number for what seems like forever, evidenced by the Nats 30-59 (.337) record against the Fish since 2008.

Game 1: Monday, April 1, Nationals Park 1:05pm, Ricky Nolasco (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (0-0, -.-- ERA)

The Marlins will send Ricky Nolasco, to the mound on Opening Day to face off against Strasburg. Nolasco has always been a fairly streaky pitcher who has done very well against the Nats, going 11-5 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a K:BB of 4.5:1 in 20 career games. Nolasco has held current Nats to a paltry .600 OPS over 255 PA’s. The two Nats who have fared the best are Zim sporting a .789 OPS over 45 PA’s and Chad Tracy with a .885 OPS over 13 PA’s.

Current Nationals vs. Ricky Nolasco:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Adam LaRoche 52 50 14 3 0 0 5 2 12 .280 .308 .340 .648
Ryan Zimmerman 45 44 12 2 0 3 5 0 10 .273 .267 .523 .789
Jayson Werth 30 28 4 0 0 1 3 2 9 .143 .200 .250 .450
Danny Espinosa 20 15 0 0 0 0 1 2 6 .000 .200 .000 .200
Roger Bernadina 17 15 2 1 0 0 0 2 4 .133 .235 .200 .435
Ian Desmond 16 12 2 1 0 0 1 1 6 .167 .267 .250 .517
Bryce Harper 15 14 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .286 .333 .286 .619
Chad Tracy 13 12 4 2 0 0 1 1 3 .333 .385 .500 .885
Kurt Suzuki 13 12 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .167 .154 .167 .321
Steve Lombardozzi 12 10 3 0 0 0 1 2 1 .300 .417 .300 .717
Stephen Strasburg 8 7 2 0 0 0 3 1 2 .286 .375 .286 .661
Zach Duke 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667
Wilson Ramos 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 255 232 52 9 0 5 24 14 58 .224 .273 .328 .600
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

Strasburg will be the Nats Opening Day starter for the second year in a row. Most of the national media has spent the majority of the off-season and the Spring debating the effectiveness of the shutdown, but Strasburg has repeatedly said that he wants to put the shutdown behind him and just get back to pitching with no limitations. The Marlins are the team that Stras has by far faced the most with 48.1 IP. While the bad games towards the end of 2012 stick out, Stras has done well against the Fish in record and ERA going 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA, but his rate stats haven’t quite been where you expect them for Strasburg, with a 8.9 K/9 and a 1.18 WHIP. These are by no means “bad numbers” but they are again, lower than his career averages. Current Marlins have hit Strasburg well with an .867 OPS in 77 PA’s. The standouts of the group are Giancarlo Stanton with a 1.275 OPS in 14 PA’s and Juan Pierre with a 1.056 OPS in 9 PA’s.

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Current Marlins vs. Stephen Strasburg:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Giancarlo Stanton 14 13 5 3 0 1 3 1 5 .385 .429 .846 1.275
Greg Dobbs 14 14 4 1 0 0 2 0 4 .286 .286 .357 .643
Juan Pierre 9 8 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .556 .500 1.056
Ricky Nolasco 8 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333
Justin Ruggiano 7 6 2 0 0 1 2 1 3 .333 .429 .833 1.262
Donovan Solano 7 6 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 .333 .429 .333 .762
Rob Brantly 5 4 2 0 0 1 1 1 1 .500 .600 1.250 1.850
Placido Polanco 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .400 .600
Chris Coghlan 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Austin Kearns 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333
Total 77 69 21 5 0 3 10 6 18 .304 .360 .507 .867
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

Game 2: Wednesday, April 3, Nationals Park 7:05pm, Kevin Slowey (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (0-0, -.-- ERA)

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A few injury riddled years separated from being a marginal starter (4.24 FIP Career) Kevin Slowey was a Non-Roster Invitee who made the Marlins roster out of camp after spending 2012 in the Indians minor league system. Slowey has never faced the Nats and has only faced two current Nationals, Werth who walked in his only PA and Kurt Suzuki who has a 1.000 OPS in 9 PA’s.

Current Nationals vs. Kevin Slowey:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Kurt Suzuki 9 9 3 0 0 1 1 0 2 .333 .333 .667 1.000
Jayson Werth 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000
Total 10 9 3 0 0 1 2 0 2 .333 .300 .667 .967
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

After a rather poor couple of outings for Gio Gonzalez in the NLDS closed out his 2012, he was chomping at the bit to get back on the mound. In the closest thing there is to “real games” in March, the World Baseball Classic, Gio was stellar in his one outing for Team USA throwing 5 scoreless innings of 3-hit ball and striking out 5 on only 69 pitches. Throughout the rest of the Spring Gio only allowed 3 runs in 18 IP with a K/9 of 8 and a K:BB of 2.67. Gio’s record against the Marlins is a great reason why pitcher W/L’s don’t matter. In three games Gio is 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 and 9.33 K:BB. In other words, he’s pitched great and just gotten the unlucky loss. Gio owns current Marlins, holding them to a .445 OPS over 65 PA’s. The only Marlins with an OPS over .600 against Gio are Placido Polanco at .896 OPS over 14 PA’s and Greg Dobbs who sports a 1.000 OPS over 4 PA’s. Of the 11 hits he’s given up to current Marlins, only two have gone for extra bases.

Current Marlins vs. Gio Gonzalez:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Placido Polanco 14 13 4 0 0 1 2 1 3 .308 .357 .538 .896
Juan Pierre 10 10 3 0 0 0 1 0 2 .300 .300 .300 .600
Austin Kearns 9 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Miguel Olivo 8 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 .000 .125 .000 .125
Donovan Solano 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400
Casey Kotchman 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Justin Ruggiano 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 4 .200 .200 .400 .600
Greg Dobbs 4 4 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Giancarlo Stanton 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 65 62 11 1 0 1 4 2 22 .177 .203 .242 .445
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

Game 3: Thursday, April 4, Nationals Park 4:05pm, Wade LeBlanc (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, -.-- ERA)

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Wade LeBlanc, or “Frenchy” to anyone who has read Dirk Hayhurst’s books, was traded to the Marlins prior to 2012 and had a decent year ending with a 3.67 ERA (4.04 FIP) over 68.2 IP at the Major League level split between starting and relieving. In limited time against current Nationals, LeBlanc has been hit fairly hard with a .911 OPS over 28 PA’s. LaRoche is the only Nat with more than a games-worth of appearances against LeBlanc and sports a healthy 1.429 OPS against him over 7 PA’s.

Current Nationals vs. Wade LeBlanc:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Adam LaRoche 7 7 3 1 0 1 2 0 1 .429 .429 1.000 1.429
Steve Lombardozzi 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
Jayson Werth 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Bryce Harper 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Kurt Suzuki 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Ryan Zimmerman 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Zach Duke 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Danny Espinosa 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Roger Bernadina 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jordan Zimmermann 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ian Desmond 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000
Total 28 27 10 1 0 1 2 1 4 .370 .393 .519 .911
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

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Jordan Zimmermann takes the hill in the final game of this three game set. Zimmermann had a statistically rough Spring but spent a lot of time this working on his changeup and pitching coach Steve McCatty appears to be happy with the strides he has made with the pitch. For his career ZNN is 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA vs. the Marlins. Interestingly enough his K:BB numbers have increased moderately when facing the Marlins, jumping from his career average of 3.5 to 5 against the Fish. Zimmermann has kept the Marlins fairly mediocre when throwing against them, holding them to a .754 OPS. Giancarlo has teed off on Jordan with 3 hits in 13 PA’s, all three being home runs, and leading to an OPS of 1.154.

Current Marlins vs. Jordan Zimmermann:

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="PA" class="tooltip" tip="Plate Appearances
When available, we use actual plate appearances from play-by-play game accounts
Otherwise estimated using AB + BB + HBP + SF + SH,
which excludes catcher interferences.
When this color click for a summary of each PA." align="center">PA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="batting_avg" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Hits/At Bats
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played
Bold indicates highest BA using current stats
Gold means awarded title at end of year." align="center">BA

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="(H + BB + HBP)/(At Bats + BB + HBP + SF)
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OBP

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="slugging_perc" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="Total Bases/At Bats or
(1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR)/AB

For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">SLG

<th onclick="" onmouseout="" onmouseover="" style="background-color: #ddd; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px;" data-stat="onbase_plus_slugging" class="tooltip hide_non_quals" tip="On-Base + Slugging Percentages
For recent years, leaders need 3.1 PA
per team game played" align="center">OPS

AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
Juan Pierre 16 13 3 0 0 0 0 3 0 .231 .375 .231 .606
Giancarlo Stanton 13 13 3 0 0 3 5 0 4 .231 .231 .923 1.154
Placido Polanco 11 11 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 .364 .364 .364 .727
Chris Coghlan 9 8 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .125 .111 .125 .236
Greg Dobbs 8 8 3 0 0 1 2 0 2 .375 .375 .750 1.125
Casey Kotchman 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000
Donovan Solano 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333
Justin Ruggiano 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Total 69 63 16 1 0 4 9 4 14 .254 .294 .460 .754
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2013.

In a very encouraging turn of events Wilson Ramos has already taken hold of the starting Catcher job and will be behind home plate for Opening Day. Obviously his workload will be monitored, but it would appear the he is far ahead of even the most optimistic timeline proffered by anyone covering the team. With Kurt Suzuki manning the other half of the 50/50 split and working into the backup role, it would be tough for the Nats to be any better positioned at Catcher.

On the injury front, Bryce Harper’s thumb us still a little sore, but since he played in Friday’s exhibition game against the Yankees it is expected that he will start and play the entire series against the Marlins. Christian Garcia will start the season on the disabled list, as expected for weeks now, but he has been cleared by doctors to start rehabbing and threw on Sunday. It is expected that he could be ready for bullpen duty by the middle of April, but will most likely spend some time at Syracuse before being recalled by the Nationals.


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