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: 4:05 PM ET, Friday, August 3, 2012
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FSFL (Miami), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Brad Hand (NR) vs. Nationals LH John Lannan (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
Hand went 1-8 with a 4.20 ERA as a rookie in 2011 but was left in the minors to start the season as Miami brought in veterans like Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. The 22-year-old pitched well at Triple-A, posting an 8-5 record with a 3.66 ERA in 22 starts. He has allowed three runs or less in each of his last eight minor-league starts. Hand pitched twice against the Nationals last season, going 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA.
Lannan is auditioning for the rotation spot that will be vacated when Stephen Strasburg gets shutdown late this month or early September. Lannan beat Atlanta in a spot start on July 21, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings. The left-hander is just 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse and has served up at least five runs in each of his last three minor-league turns.
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.