The Miami Marlins have been a tremendous surprise this season. Most predictions pegged the Marlins to finish near the bottom of the NL East standings. Then, the truncated 2020 barely started when the Marlins had to quarantine due to rampant COVID positives within the organization. Through it all, the Marlins have persevered, and going into the final ten games, have a chance to finish second in the NL East and possibly host a first-round playoff series in Miami. Right now, the Marlins sit just a half-game ahead of Philadelphia for that second-place spot. With looming series against the first-place Braves and surging Yankees, the Marlins need to get every win they can. After Saturday’s 7-3 win, a doubleheader sweep of the Nationals today would go a long way in helping the Marlins accomplish that goal.
The defending World Series champions have suffered through a disappointing season to say the least. Some regression from last year was expected with the departure of Anthony Rendon. Stephen Strasburg has only pitched five innings this year, the Nationals have had to deal with a rash of injuries to key members of the lineup throughout the year. The only positive is the Nationals are getting a look at some young talent as they make decisions about the future.
Does Max Scherzer Still Have It?Max Scherzer has been one of the more dominant pitchers over the past seven seasons, winning the Cy Young three times. This season, Scherzer’s 3.30 FIP is still better than the league average, but his 1.401 WHIP is the highest of his career. Despite that, Scherzer is still throwing swing and miss stuff with a strikeout rate of 12.8 K/9. The Nationals ace was roughed up in his last start, allowing Atlanta to score six runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings while striking out 10. On August 22nd of this year, Scherzer pitched the opening game of a doubleheader against Miami, earning a no-decision after allowing four runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings.
The good news for Scherzer is that some young players are stepping up to offer offensive support. Rookie Carter Kieboom has hit .375 over the past seven games, while fellow rookie Luis Garcia has hit .368 with a home run over the same stretch. Trea Turner has slashed .417/.455/.688 with a 1.144 OPS on the road this season, and Juan Soto has slashed .338/.463/.677/1.139 against right-handers in 2020.
Aguilar, Marlins Look to Cash in on Opportunity to Sweep WashingtonWith a key four-game series against the Braves and a three-year series to finish the season against the suddenly red hot Yankees looming, the Marlins are in desperate need of hoarding as many wins as possible to maintain their playoff spot. That tough stretch to end the 2020 regular season starts with a Sunday doubleheader against the Nationals, a team that the Marlins have beaten five of eight times.
Garrett— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 19, 2020
Alliteration. Nice. pic.twitter.com/7mIDxxQHFc
The Marlins, led by Jesus Aguilar, have slashed .257/.331/.446 with 12 home runs and a .320 BABIP over the past seven games. Aguilar’s 1.012 OPS leads the team over that stretch, while Garrett Cooper has slashed a consistent .309/.415/.491/.906 at home this season.
Sandy Alcantara gets the nod in game one against the Nationals. Alcantara enters today’s matchup with a 4.45 FIP and a 1.221 WHIP. He is coming off a hard-luck loss against the Red Sox, in which he gave up just one run on five hits in six innings of work. Alcantara is making his first start of the season against the Nationals.
- Miami: 4-1 in last five games against NL opponents
- Miami: N/A
- Washington: 4-10 in last 14 games on the road
- Washington: 7-13 in last 20 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It is hard to pick against Max Scherzer, but I am going with the Marlins in this one. Scherzer’s last performance against the Braves, and his earlier start against the Marlins gives reasonable suspicion to believe that the Marlins will be able to find some production in the lineup. Meanwhile, the Nationals will get their first look at Sandy Alcantara in 2020. Alcantara has been effective recently, and is looking to continue that trend. Overall, the Marlins lineup has performed better in recent games than the Nationals lineup. All of these reasons makes the Marlins a solid pick despite going against Scherzer.
Full-Game Total Pick
Scherzer and Alcantera could combine to force a very low scoring affair. Trendwise, both teams’ totals have favored the UNDER. The Nationals totals have gone UNDER in four of their last six, while the Marlins totals have gone UNDER in four of their last six at home. Look for that to continue in game one today.