The Washington Nationals welcomed back a big piece of their offense Thursday and are hoping that Jayson Werth’s presence can help them hold off the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. One team that won’t be putting up much of a challenge in the division is the Miami Marlins, who open a four-game series at Nationals Park on Friday with a traditional doubleheader. The Marlins are last in the majors in runs and have dropped 11 of 15.
The Nationals had been without Werth since May 6 due to a broken left wrist but slotted him into the lineup in center field on Thursday. The veteran went 1-for-3 with an RBI in a 3-0 win and is expected to get regular playing time the rest of the way. With Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche all producing, the pressure is off Werth to be the focal point of the offense. He hit sixth behind LaRoche on Thursday. Miami could get slugger Giancarlo Stanton back next week but raised the white flag on the season already with a series of trades. The Marlins have averaged 2.1 runs over the last 15 games.
Marlins Nationals Betting
When: 7:05 PM ET, Friday, August 3, 2012
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, FSFL (Miami), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Josh Johnson (6-7, 4.04 ERA) vs. Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.27)
Johnson’s name was bandied about in several rumors right up until the deadline but a so-so final turn may have kept teams from offering up their best prospects for the right-hander. Johnson allowed only two runs (one earned) and two hits but walked six over five innings in a no decision against San Diego. He had struck out nine without issuing a walk in his previous turn. The 28-year-old was pounded for five runs and 11 hits in a loss to the Nationals on July 13 but is 8-1 with a 3.53 ERA against Washington in his career.
Gonzalez will be looking to join the group leading the majors with 14 wins. The left-hander has not been quite as sharp lately as he was earlier in the season, allowing four earned runs or more in four of his last seven starts. He struck out nine and allowed two runs over six innings against the Marlins on July 14 but still suffered a loss in a 2-1 final.
1. Marlins SS Jose Reyes has hit safely in 20 straight games, matching his career high.
2. Washington and Miami split a four-game series in Florida out of the All-Star break. The Nationals have taken the only two meetings of the season in Washington, and the first game Friday will be a makeup of a postponement from April 22.
3. The Nationals are going with a seven-man bullpen. Right-hander Henry Rodriguez was placed on the DL to make room for Werth.