Will the Marlins' 2022 domination of the Nationals continue?
First pitch of this series is tonight, July 1st, at 6:05 PM EST.
Before I get into the article, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Presley Walker. I am the newest writer here at the Peanut Gallery and will be filling a spot primarily writing about the Miami Marlins. I will typically focus on previewing upcoming series and just general rants, saying stuff that somebody needs to say.
Now, on to the preview:
Game 1, Friday, July 1st
First Pitch: 6:05 PM EST
Probable Starters: Trevor Rogers (3-6) vs. Josiah Gray (6-4)
The Miami Marlins enter Washington D.C. on Friday with a great record of 8-1 against the Washington Nationals in the 2022 baseball season, matching their previous win total from 2021 before we have even reached the All-Star break. The only time that Marlins and Nats have faced each other in D.C. in 2022, the Fish walked away with a 3-game sweep. Game 1, however, may be the most crucial game in the series for the Marlins, as they are facing the Nationals' hot, young ace, Josiah Gray.
In his last 7 starts, Gray holds a 3.32 ERA, 43 strikeouts, and 1.11 WHIP in 38 innings. These numbers are outstanding for the Nationals 24 year-old. On the other side of the matchup, Trevor Rogers has had a lackluster 2022 following his All-Star season in 2021. Rogers's last 7 starts are a lot less impressive, and I mean a lot. In his last 7 starts, Rogers holds a 7.34 ERA, 29 strikeouts, and a 1.89 WHIP in 30.2 innings pitched. Although many games for the Miami Marlins can be determined on how well they swing the bat, when Trevor Rogers has been on the mound in 2022, the Marlins' success relies on what they can get out their struggling 24-year-old. Maybe facing the poor offense that the Washington Nationals have will kickstart his 2022. The key to success for him is to really command his fastball against anyone named Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, or Josh Bell, who has been the most dangerous so far in 2022.
On the offensive side, Joey Wendle is expected to make his return, which is huge against the right-handed Josiah Gray. Joey Wendle (hamstring) has been on the IL since initially being removed from the game on May 11th against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In that game, Wendle hit his second home run of the season and was really beginning to get hot at the plate. Wendle made his return on May 27th in Atlanta, played in all three games, including a pinch-hit appearance in the final game, then reinjured his hamstring on a stolen base attempt in Colorado on May 30th. Although nothing has been confirmed, Wendle is currently going through a rehab assignment. In 6 games he is slashing .348/.400/.965, meaning he is regaining confidence and comfort at the plate. If he does rejoin the team on Friday, the left-handed hitter could make an immediate impact by jumping into the lineup against Gray and the Nationals.
Another key hitter is Jazz Chisholm Jr., except in a different way. Jazz was placed on the 10-day IL prior to the game against the Cardinals on Wednesday, meaning the offense is going to have to continue to, or at least attempt to, produce without their star second baseman. Wendle’s return to the lineup would be major, adding another left-handed hitter to face the tough young right-hander that has led the Nationals pitching staff in 2022.
Game 2, Saturday, July 2nd
First Pitch: 4:05 PM EST
Probable Starters: Daniel Castano (0-1) vs. Jackson Tetreault (2-1)
Saturday’s game features two pitchers who have started only 3 games each in 2021. On the Marlins' side, Daniel Castano has been very impressive compared to other seasons he has made appearances in. Castano, most recently, showed out against the New York Mets on Sunday, June 26th, firing 7 innings while allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, and just 2 earned runs, while striking out 4. He offered a huge helping hand in the Marlins' 3-2 walk-off win.
In 2022, Castano only has 3 games started. However, across 6 total appearances, he holds a 2.57 ERA, 12 strikeouts, and a 1.38 WHIP in 21 innings of work. Aside from his “rockie” start against the Colorado Rockies in game 1 of the Rockies series back on June 21st, in which he allowed 4 earned runs and 7 hits in just 3.1 innings of work, Castano has been a huge surprise for the Marlins in the 2022. The soft-throwing lefty is holding the place of the injured Edward Cabrera, and he has honestly worked himself into possibly keeping a Major League roster spot upon Cabrera’s return. I fully expect him to keep this trend going with a solid outing vs. the Nats on Saturday vs. Jackson Tertreault, a young Nationals prospect that is coincidently making his 4th start of the 2022 season on the same night. The 26-year-old has a 4.24 ERA, 8 strikeouts, and a 1.41 WHIP in 17 innings pitched though his rookie season.
From the film I have watched, the right-handed Nationals starter has a tendency to leave the ball up in the zone, where opponents are batting .500 with a 101.7 average exit velocity. This plays into guys such as Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, who have had a poor power surge in 2022, and also guys like Garrett Cooper, who has been crushing the ball this season.
Keys to Victory
For this game, the key with the offense is if they can do the damage with runners on base or in scoring position, which has been a constant struggle and fan complaint this year. It may be likely that Castano goes back to the up-and-down starter we have seen since 2020, meaning the Marlins could have to put some runs on the board. Tetreault is a guy that can give those runs up; the question is what the Marlins can do with guys on base. All in all, I think this is the Marlins' most likely game to win in this series, and who knows? Maybe “Cowboy Dan” Castano can make his 2022 debut in a post-win press conference.
Game 3, Sunday, July 3rd
First Pitch: 1:35 PM EST
Probable Starters: Pablo Lopez (5-4) vs. Erick Fedde (5-5)
The series closes with what I assume will be a solid pitching matchup, primarily because the probables in this one both control the long ball very well. Pablo Lopez currently has a 1.03 HR/9, even after giving up two long-balls to the St. Louis Cardinals in his losing effort on Monday, while Erick Fedde has a .98 HR/9. This means both pitchers are going to keep the ball on the ground and give their ball-clubs a chance to win.
Pablo Lopez started off the year on fire, walking through Major League lineups and holding the lead league in ERA for multiple stints. However, it was a poor start against these Washington Nationals, 7 starts ago on May 18th, that not only stands out on the game log as his worst start of the season, but kind of sent his season into a downward spiral. On that May 18th start, Lopez only went 3 innings, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, and, most importantly, walked 3 hitters. Pablo is ranked 31st in the league in walk rate. He gets hurt the most in games when he is not attacking the zone with authority and allowing free passes to the wrong players who are able to capitalize. In his outings since May 18th, Pablo has a 4.54 ERA, 40 strikeouts, and a 1.27 WHIP in 41.2 innings pitched. I view this as a turnaround game, as maybe having a solid outing facing the team that started this uncharacteristic month and half for Pablo could allow him to get back on track for the career year he was on pace for entering that May 18th start.
On the offensive side, Fedde is a sinkerball pitcher that keeps the ball on the ground in a day and age when it is all about the home run. Although this season he has not had much success in the ERA category, or his career at that, as a fan of pitching he is fun to watch. Fedde works a lot like a Great Value Greg Maddux; works the corners and his fastball sits around 93 MPH, whereas his cutter sits around 89 MPH. As I stated earlier, Fedde does a great job at keeping the ball out of the seats. However, teams have still hit him around the yard, posting a.294 BABIP. If Erick Fedde is going to beat the Marlins, he needs to continue doing what he is doing when runners are at first, as he has created 47 GIDPO in just 73.2 innings pitched. I highlight this stat specifically because the Marlins ground into .65 double plays per game. This can be avoided by continuing to do what the Marlins have excelled at during the 2022 season: stealing bases.
Run Rabbit Run
The Marlins lead the National League in stolen bases thus far in 2022, which is huge for this game, specifically in order to avoid these double play situations. If the Marlins can continue to run on a young catcher, presumably Keibert Ruiz, they can easily handle not only this game, but the entire series.
Game 4, Monday, July 4th
First Pitch: 11:05 am EST
Probable Starters: Braxton Garrett (1-3) vs Patrick Corbin (4-10)
Braxton Garrett is still getting his footing on the rubber in the 2022 season. Being called up after Edward Cabrera was sent to the 10-day IL, Garrett has kept the Marlins in 3 of his 5 starts this season. In his latest start, he allowed 5 earned runs in 4.2 innings, and it felt as if this was more of a problem with management. He looked lost, as many younger players can get in the Show. That transition from Triple-A to MLB is a big one, especially facing teams like the Cardinals, who are competing for a World Series in 2022. In this scenario, Don Mattingly should have done a better job recognizing this and going and getting him out of the game. If a fan can recognize what's happening, I would hope the manager of a big league club could do the same.
I am personally not worried, however. I like Garrett’s stuff on the mound, and I think a bounce back start against a sluggish Nationals offense is all he needs. Patrick Corbin has been atrocious in the 2022 season, to say the least. The expectations for a guy being paid $140 million over 6 years is a lot higher than the 6.06 ERA and 4-10 record Corbin has posted thus far in 2022. His main downfall has been his BB/9 being the highest it has been since 2016, when he posted a career worst 6.30 ERA. I can see the Marlins taking advantage of this inability to attack the zone.
Specifically, I am looking for the right-handed hitting Jon Berti to take the most advantage by either walking or hitting the “get me over” strikes Corbin is sure to throw him, then doing the real damage on the base paths. Though Berti has had some baserunning struggles over the past few series, Corbin is slow to the plate for a left-handed pitcher. With the young staff that the Marlins will be facing this weekend, I fully expect Berti to take the extra base whenever he can.
The Marlins have been very successful against the Nationals all season. I see that continuing through this series with another sweep, securing their most wins against the Nationals in a single season since 2011 at 11. This is also an opportunity to get their all-time season record in wins against the Nats which is currently set at 14 in 2008. With 7 games remaining in the series for the rest of season, the likelihood of that record being set is fairly high.
Game 1: 6-2, MIA. Player of the Game: Garrett Cooper
Game 2: 8-3, MIA. Player of the Game: Jorge Soler
Game 3: 4-0, MIA. Player of the Game: Pablo Lopez
Game 4: 4-2, MIA. Player of the Game: Jon Berti
Series MVP: Pablo Lopez
As I stated earlier in the preview, Pablo’s season has taken a real nosedive since his previous start against this team. Not only do I believe I can see and recognize that, but I think he obviously knows this too, and will really use this start as a bounce back. I feel like this could be a special outing from Pablo that rights the ship and turns him back into the same Pablo Lopez we have gotten a peak of throughout the 2022 season.