Baseball Predictions: Nationals at Marlins Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/6/2013
I haven't really kept track, but I'm pretty certain I have previewed a game involving the Miami Marlins less than any other team -- OK maybe Houston. I am fairly certain this will be the last Marlins preview of the year as well, and the only reason I am previewing Friday's Nationals-Marlins opener is because of phenomenal Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez. Yasiel Puig gets all the publicity, but Fernandez frankly deservers to be the NL Rookie of the Year. Alas, he probably won't win it because Friday is expected to be his penultimate start of the season as the Marlins will cap his innings. There might actually be 20,000 fans in attendance!
The Nationals, meanwhile, still think a wild-card spot is possible, and as we saw in 2011 anything is possible (and that was when there was just one spot). Washington has won two straight to get three games over .500 and 6.5 games behind Cincinnati for the second wild card. This is one of those series the Nats must sweep. And they could make some noise as their next two are against the Mets and Phillies. But I don't see the Reds slipping enough for Washington to make it.
Nationals at Marlins Betting Story Lines
Fernandez was recently named the NL Rookie of the Month for the second straight month -- yes, ahead of Puig. Fernandez was the first pitcher to receive the award in back-to-back months since 2006. He was 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA in six August starts, the third-lowest ERA in the National League in that stretch. The Cuban held opposing hitters to a .158 batting average, the lowest opponents' batting average in the majors for the month. The Marlins should just shut him down now, but as was proven with the handling of the Mets' Matt Harvey, there is simply no way to determine when a pitcher will hurt his arm/shoulder. This is why you hear of some parents having their promising young pitchers go through Tommy John surgery ahead of time.
Fernandez (10-6, 2.33) is a beast a throwing strikes. According to ESPN, Fernandez throws strikes in a two-strike count at the third-highest rate in the league (72 percent), and he has a 9.81 K/9 rate, the third-highest in the league. Should he keep that rate in the final two starts, he will become the youngest player ever to post double-digit wins, a K/9 higher than nine, and have an ERA under 2.50. Fernandez last faced the Nats on July 13 in Miami, allowing a run and four hits over six innings in a no-decision. That was the only time he has pitched against Washington. Ryan Zimmerman had two hits off him in that game.
Don't expect Fernandez to go deep in this game as the Marlins don't want him pitching more than 12 innings in his final two starts. The only reason they are extending him is to get fans in the park. His final start would then be Wednesday against Atlanta. By the way, Washington's Denard Span brings a 17-game hitting streak into the game, the longest active streak in the majors. He's 0-for-1 with two walks in his career off Fernandez. Bryce Harper should be in the lineup. He sat Wednesday with a sore left hip. Manager Davey Johnson rested him because the team was off Thursday.
Washington counters with Dan Haren (8-12, 5.02). He was terrible to start the year then got good. However, it all fell apart last time out as Haren lasted just 2.2 innings against the Mets and allowed seven runs and nine hits (all but one singles). One of his best starts of the season came July 13 in Miami as Haren blanked the Marlins on three hits over six innings. Veteran Placido Polanco has faced Haren more than an Marling, going 9-for-25 with four RBI. Giancarlo Stanton is 2-for-6.
Nationals at Marlins Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Miami opened at -149 and Washington at +139 with a total of 6.5. The Nationals are 67-66-6 “over/under” (32-34-2 on road) and 58-81 on the runline. The Marlins are 54-68-16 O/U (30-32-6 at home) and 78-60 on the runline.
Washington is 4-0 in its past four after an off day. It is 4-1 in its past five road games against right-handed starters. The Nats are 5-11 in their past 16 series openers. They are 2-8 in Haren's past 10 road starts and 1-6 in his past seven series openers. The Marlins are 2-6 in their past eight home games against teams with a losing road record. Miami is 3-13 in its past 16 against righty starters. The Fish are 1-5 in their past six at home. They are 5-0 in Fernandez's past six against teams with a winning record. The Marlins are 9-0 in Fernandez's past nine home starts. The under is 4-1 in Haren's past five road starts. The under is 5-2 in Fernandez's past seven home starts.
Baseball Predictions: Nationals at Marlins Betting Picks
Washington leads the season series 9-3 and swept three in D.C. when the teams last met. Because I believe Fernandez is yanked after six innings at the most, I'd lean Washington here considering it's clearly the better overall team and has something to play for. Take the over.
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