Part of me wanted to go deep into Bryce and Strasburg's issues today but I had to remind myself. Two starts. Twenty at bats. When you start talking about stuff today with too much importance you end up with silly stuff like this. Nothing technically incorrect here but when you rely on current information to make adjustments and you have very limited current information, the conclusions you reach are going to have to be viewed as extremely preliminary. I guarantee (and if I had the actual pre-season numbers, I could do it), that we would see these changes in odds swing in wild and crazy ways between this date (before Friday's games) and today. What seems so sure today can seem like nonsense three days from now.
So onto the series preview
The Marlins are hot winning 5 of their first 7 games. They haven't exactly faced the cream of the crop in competition, beating up on the Rockies and Padres in Miami, but you win the games presented to you. Some early things look good for the long run. Jarrod Saltalamacchia looks like he will solve their issues at catcher. Stanton might be back on track after a mildly disappointing 2013. Marcell Ozuna looks to be a quality OF. Jose Fernandez is the stud everyone thought he was. Other successes are probably fleeting. Adeiny Haechavarria isn't going to hit well into the .300s, let alone close to .400. Casey McGehee isn't the best power hitter in the NL. The bullpen is going to allow more than a single run this season. Of course what matters to the Nats is that this fleeting takes place sooner rather than later, as after this 9 game, 6 vs Nats stretch they have a 3 game Mariner set then a 9 game, 6 vs Braves stretch. No one wants to see the Marlins remain hot against the Nats and cool down vs the Braves.
Speaking of the bullpen, that seems like the key to the season for the Marlins to me. The offense should settle down into a roughly average squad. The starters should be at least 4 deep in quality (either Turner or Alvarez should settle down) with a stud at the top. If the relievers can hold their own the team would be an outside playoff threat. If they can't then it's a maybe .500 squad in my eyes.
You know the Nats, injuries have taken out two big righty bats in Ramos and perhaps Zimm. Everyone but Bryce looks pretty hot out of the remaining starters but a lot of that is the Mets series, as they cooled down a bunch versus the Braves. Strasburg is struggling but the rest of the rotation looked pretty good, the pen has been fairly solid too.
Henderson Alvarez vs Gio Gonzalez
Henderson is wildly erratic in the performances he brings. He's not a strikeout guy, and thus his outing is going to be highly dependent on how much sink he's getting on his fastballs. He's rarely killed by a lot of home runs even when off and can eat up less patient hitters like Ian and Rendon. Still the Nats do have patience in Werth, new LaRoche, and Bryce. Gio on the mound should be fine though everyone that is hot for the Marlins is a RHB.
Jacob Turner vs Tanner Roark
Jacob Turner is a back of the rotation guy who has some limited potential. If he can spot his fastball, his curve works as a nice out pitch but usually he's too wild to make that happen. Roark looked shaky in the first inning vs the Mets, but the Mets being the Mets, they didn't capitalize or try to stretch him out. The Marlins aren't big on walks either.
Tom Koehler vs Jordan Zimmermann.
Koehler's like Turner but the fastball and curveball seem to have better life to them than what Turner has put out in the majors. Solid innings eater type.
The Nats should win the last two. Turner should be the cure to what ails the Nats bats and ZNN is enough better than Koehler that you can't predict the Nats losing that one. Of course that's a should. This first game sets the stage and it's the hardest to call. Gio is better than Alvarez, no question. But Alvarez pulls out gems everyonce in a while. Plus with the Marlins righty bats hot, I can see the Nats losing this game. If things go completely wrong and it's a Miami blowout, say 10-2 then there might be enough momentum to carry through to the next game. I like Roark and I don't like Turner but still. Conversely if Alvarez is off and Gio quiets the bats there no reason a sweep couldn't be in the cards. For the sake of doing it, I'll say Miami squeaks out tonight, but the Nats win the last 2 pretty easily.