The Washington Nationals, who have alternated losses and wins in each of their past six contests, will open a five-game series against the visiting Miami Marlins on Friday night.
Miami enters the series having lost five straight games and eight of its past 10. Miami’s scheduled game on Thursday night against the New York Mets was postponed. Fox Sports Florida reported that a Mets player and a staffer tested positive for COVID-19, causing the postponement.
On Friday, Washington will start left-hander Patrick Corbin (2-1, 3.91 ERA). Right-hander Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 1.84) was originally scheduled to start for Miami but rookie Daniel Castano (0-1, 4.35), who has just two major league starts, may get the nod instead since he did not make his scheduled start against the Mets.
Against the Marlins last year, Corbin was 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts. He held Miami hitters to a .165 batting average with 29 strikeouts and just five walks. For his career, he’s 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 10 starts against the Marlins.
Corbin, a two-time All-Star (2013 and 2018), became a World Series champ in 2019 World Series champ as perhaps the best No. 3 starter in baseball, behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Hernandez started twice against the Nationals last year, going 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA, and he’s 0-2 with an 8.02 ERA in eight career appearances (three starts) against Washington.
This year, however, Hernandez has struck out 19 batters in just 14 2/3 innings. His slider has helped make Hernandez perhaps the biggest surprise on the team. Hernandez, 25, broke into the majors in 2018 and had an ERA higher than 5.00 that year and again in 2019.
He’s been much better this year, obviously, but he has yet to show he can go deep into a game, failing to go past 5 1/3 innings or 82 pitches in any of his three starts. His career-long outing is six innings, a milestone he reached five times last year.
Corbin has gone at least six innings in two of his four starts in 2020. Both of those were quality starts for Corbin, who is 27-15 since the start of the 2018 season.
Pitching will be vital for the Nationals because they have 21 games in the next 19 days with no open date until Sept. 9.
Offensively, Washington DH Howie Kendrick could return to action on Friday. Kendrick, who hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring last Friday, is hitting .300 with one homer and six RBIs.
“He’s getting close, but I don’t want him to reinjure himself and miss three or four weeks,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez of Kendrick, who hit .344 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs last year. “It’s frustrating. We love when he’s in the lineup. But I’m going to take care of him and get him right.”
Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, who had 29 saves last year and has 78 in the past three years, has been out with a knee injury and is day to day.
For the Marlins, they are expected to have Miguel Rojas back off the COVID-19 list. He is one of 18 players who tested positive last month.
“Every one of them is on a different timetable,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Rojas, who is batting .700 in just three games.
–Field Level Media