When: 7:05 EST
The Starters: Zambrano (0-0, 3.75) vs. Detwiler (1-0, 0.90)
The Line: Nats -125, Marlins +105, O/U 7.5 Runs, Nats -1.5
Now that the Nationals have wrapped up their four game set against the Astros, they’ll welcome their division rival Miami Marlins to the Nation’s capital for the first time this season. Both of these teams come in hot, with the Nat’s taking three of four against the Houston (although they did get smashed in the series finale last night) and Miami riding a four game win streak. The Nationals will send young lefty Ross Detwiler to the mound for his third start of the year. He pitched very well in his first two starts, going 1-0 with a microscopic 0.90 era (1 ER in 10 innings) but longevity has been an issue considering he went just five innings in each start. One thing Ross has going for him is that even though the Marlins have a solid lineup, they have struggled against lefties so far this season batting just .222 (T-22nd in MLB). It will be very important for Detwiler to retire the lead off batters of innings because given the opportunity the Marlins will manufacture runs with their great speed (16 SB, 1st in MLB). For the Marlins, it will be 30 year old righty Carlos Zambrano getting the ball. Big Z has been one of the most overrated pitchers in recent memory, being widely considered one the best pitchers in the game despite just once having an era under 3 (8 years ago), and managing to win more than 16 games just once (18 in 2007). To me he’s baseball’s Keyshawn Johnson, his numbers are good but not good enough to warrant the level of media attention he gets because of his antics as a clubhouse/locker room cancer. Zambrano is also coming off his worst year as pro, posting a 4.82 era (nearly a full run higher than any full season of his career) before effectively being kicked off the team. Now that i’ve thoroughly bashed the guy, i’ll offer a silver lining. He’s only 30 so he should still have some solid years left and for the $2.5 million of his salary that the Marlins are responsible for (of over $18 million), he’s actually a pretty nice value if he doesn’t become a disruption in the clubhouse. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from both of these guys due to Detwiler’s limited experience and Zambrano’s being Zambrano, but i’ll give the slight edge to Detwiler tonight. As for the lineups I think the edge has to go to the Marlins but they’re pretty even. The Marlins lead the Nationals in batting average (.259 to .252), homers (11 to 7), and runs (55 to 53) but they trail the Nats in on base percentage (.335 to .316) and that may be the most important offensive statistic (it is if you subscribe to the “Moneyball” school of thought). I’ll give the Marlins the nod just due to their slight power advantage and big speed advantage, speed kills. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but ill say it again, I love the Nat’s bullpen and that hasen’t changed. Although the Washington bullpen gave up 6 runs last night, it was all given up by Tom Gorzelanny, so I still feel confident in everybody else out there (and even Gorzelanny to a lesser degree). The Marlins bullpen is pretty good in it’s own right, with Steve Cishek totally dominating so far this season (7.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K). However, their big name guy at the back of the bullpen, Heath Bell, has struggled with his new team, blowing 2 of his 4 save opportunities thus far. So the Nats get the bullpen advantage in this series. Overall, I like the National’s to take game one based on Detwiler’s ability to slow down this hot lineup and an erratic performance by Zambrano against a team that will make him throw strikes.
Prediction: Nationals 5, Marlins 3
Key Players (Stat Prediction): Detwiler (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 2 BB), Werth (2-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI), Zambrano (6 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 4 BB), Stanton (2-4, HR, 2 RBI)
Jesse’s Picks W/L: 8 – 6
Jesse’s Picks ATS: 7 – 6