Marlins-Nationals Preview

Jordan Zimmermann has a good chance to finish with the most wins

in the NL this season, but he would gladly trade those victories

for the chance to return to the playoffs.

Given the Nationals sizable deficit in the NL wild-card race,

that likely won’t happen, but Zimmermann will try to boost the

Nationals’ faint hopes by earning his 19th victory Friday night

against the Miami Marlins.

Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33 ERA) currently has sole possession of the

NL victories lead, with St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright his closest

pursuer. Wainwright is not slated to build on his 17 victories

until Monday, meaning the Nationals right-hander could take a

two-game lead Friday.

Zimmermann will try to do that by improving to 4-0 this month.

He allowed two runs over seven innings Sunday against Philadelphia

and got some impressive support from his teammates in an 11-2

rout.

“It feels good, but then again, I’ll trade all those wins in for

a spot in the playoffs,” Zimmermann told the team’s website.

“That’s the only thing that matters right now.”

The Nationals (82-71) need another strong start from Zimmermann

as they’re five games behind Cincinnati in the wild card with nine

remaining. They’ve managed to keep their slim chances alive by

winning 11 of 13, including a 3-2 victory in Thursday’s series

opener.

Bryce Harper accounted for the offense with a three-run,

first-inning homer, but Denard Span had his MLB-best 29-game hit

streak snapped.

“I like being in those pressure situations, crucial situations

of playing for the wild card,” Harper said. “All year long you try

to play for the playoffs and try to go to the next round. Now it’s

getting to that point where we’re turning it on and playing the

game how we should have played it all year.”

The Nationals are 7-0 at home versus the Marlins (56-97) this

season and have won 12 of 16 between the teams. Zimmermann is 2-0

with a 2.40 ERA in two starts against Miami in 2013, winning both

in April.

The Marlins, losers in 11 of 14, will give Jacob Turner another

attempt to snap a lengthy skid. The right-hander is 0-6 with a 4.60

ERA in his last 11 starts, but he had a solid outing Saturday

against the New York Mets, giving up three runs over five innings

in a 3-1 loss.

“I feel like that was probably the best I’ve thrown in a while,

as far as making quality pitches,” Turner told the team’s

website.

Turner (3-7, 3.51) was charged with five runs over four innings

in a 6-4 defeat to Washington on Sept. 8. He’s 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA

in three lifetime starts against the Nationals, his worst ERA

versus any NL opponent.

Wilson Ramos went 3 for 3 with a home run against Turner in the

win earlier this month and Ryan Zimmerman, batting .395 with four

homers in his last nine games, had a solo shot.

Harper is 3 for 6 with two homers versus the right-hander.