Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals doubleheader preview

May 14, 2016

Although the weather may again cause some changes for the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals, at least this time the temperature will be suitable for baseball.

Saturday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park was the result of an early April postponement due to temperatures in the high 20s, but even with the forecast calling for mid-70s, rain is expected to fall during the nightcap.

The Marlins (18-16) and Nationals (22-13) can at least get in the makeup game after Bryce Harper hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning Friday to help Washington kick off the series with a 5-3 win.

"In that situation there I don't feel handicapped because it's what we've been doing all year," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of using right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough against the lefty swinging Harper in the seventh.


The victory was the Nationals' fourth in seven meetings with Miami this season.

Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03 ERA) takes the hill in Game 1 trying to reverse a bad trend against the Marlins, who have handed him both his losses and a 6.30 ERA in those starts.

Roark has allowed no earned runs in four of his seven outings but has given up seven earned out of nine total runs against Miami this season, and the only homer he's surrendered in 44 1/3 innings came off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton.

It's all part of an extended struggle for the right-hander, who is 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins after losing four straight against them.

Perhaps Roark can find inspiration in outworking the reigning NL Cy Young winner in his previous start. Although Washington eventually lost 4-3 in 13 innings at Wrigley Field on Sunday, Roark allowed four hits and an unearned run with seven strikeouts in six innings to best Jake Arrieta, who lasted five and gave up three runs.

That game also featured Harper tying a major league record with six walks. After another two free passes Friday, he's been walked 20 times in his last eight games.

Opposing Roark will be left-hander Justin Nicolino (2-0, 2.79 ERA), who has pitched well in three starts since being inserted into Miami's rotation in late April.

Nicolino gave up three runs - two earned - and seven hits in six innings of a 6-5 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Stephen Strasburg (5-0, 2.76 ERA) gets the ball in the second game after an interesting outing in his last turn. The right-hander struck out a season-best 11 in seven innings Monday, but he also matched season worsts with three walks and four runs allowed in a 5-4 win over Detroit.

During the up-and-down outing, news broke that Strasburg would skip his first shot at free agency, instead agreeing to a $175 million deal from 2017-23.

"It was a grind. I threw a couple of pitches that I definitely would want back," Strasburg told MLB's website. "I just kept trying to turn the page and try to do everything I can to keep the score where it was."

He was outstanding in his only start against Miami this season, tossing eight innings of three-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a 7-0 win April 19. He is 11-7 with a 3.46 ERA over 24 career starts versus the Marlins.

Strasburg and his huge contract present an imposing challenge for Kendry Flores, whom the Marlins will call up from Triple-A Nashville to make a spot start.

Flores, who has posted a 2.59 ERA over 31 1/3 innings at Nashville this season, was hit hard in his only career start in 2015, allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings of a 7-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 21.