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Marlins comeback falls short in 5-2 loss

Dating back to last season, this was their 11th(!) straight defeat to the Nats.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Give the Marlins credit for battling—they made the Nationals throw 189 pitches on Sunday afternoon, forcing Stephen Strasburg from the game early and generating some offense against four relievers. But the Nats slugged their way to a significant lead in the middle innings and held on to complete the sweep, 5-2.

  • Elieser Hernández (Marlins): 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches)
  • Stephen Strasburg (Nats): 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K (103 pitches)

Hernández worked a smooth first inning before struggling with his command the rest of the way. The young right-hander began just seven of 19 Washington batters (36.8 percent) with first-pitch strikes. Even when finding the plate, J.T. Realmuto was frequently reaching far from his original setup to receive the pitches, Anthony Rendon’s fourth-inning home run being a prime example of that.

On the bright side, Hernández has issued only one walk through 18 MLB innings. His earned run average sits at a pretty 2.50.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins struck out superstar Bryce Harper eight times during the series, but you wouldn’t know it from his matchup with Jarlin Garcia. Entering in relief of Hernández in the sixth, García served up a solo shot to Harper to extend the lead to 3-0.

The most reliable bats in Miami’s lineup, Realmuto and Justin Bour, made things slightly interesting. Realmuto’s two-out single in the seventh spoiled the shutout. Then, Bour went deep to dead center field against Sammy Solis in the eighth. Statcast estimated the distance at 424 feet, edging out the blasts by Rendon and Harper.

Dating back to 2017, this is the third consecutive series between these NL East rivals that the Nats have swept.

Up next, the Marlins pack up for a 10-game, three-city road trip, their longest of the season. The first stop is San Diego. Their Memorial Day game on Monday has a special 4:10pm ET start time.

Win Probability chart courtesy of FanGraphs

Kingfish: Strasburg (.284 WPA)

Flounder: Starlin Castro (-.137)

Play of the game: Rendon’s go-ahead homer (.132)

Attendance: 11,651

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Today's Lineups

Trea Turner - SS Derek Dietrich - LF
Bryce Harper - RF J.T. Realmuto - C
Anthony Rendon - 3B Starlin Castro - 2B
Matt Adams - 1B Justin Bour - 1B
Juan Soto - LF Brian Anderson - RF
Michael Taylor - CF Miguel Rojas - 3B
Wilmer Difo - 2B JT Riddle - SS
Pedro Severino - C Lewis Brinson - CF
Stephen Strasburg - RHP Elieser Hernandez - RHP

5/27/18 Probable Starters

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Elieser Hernández Marlins 13.0 2.08 3.41 4.15 0.2
Stephen Strasburg Nationals 67.0 3.36 3.70 10.07 0.9

Matchup Summary

Surprisingly, Marlins starting pitchers have matched up well with the Nats through the first two games of this series. The difference has been...everything else.

Their offense took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on Saturday, but never added any insurance. Wei-Yin Chen’s mistake to Wilmer Difo evened the score, and then Washington teed off against Brad Ziegler in the ninth en route to a 4-1 final.

Every start for Elieser Hernández is critical considering that more developed prospects like Sandy Alcántara and Trevor Richards continue to excel with Triple-A New Orleans, gunning for his rotation spot. The 23-year-old could be moved into a relief role to accommodate them.

Hernandez’s most effective secondary pitch is his changeup (thrown 20.3 percent of the time). He’ll need to continue generating weak contact with it.

The game begins at 1:10pm ET.

Thread Question: How many games will the Marlins win against the Nats this season? They’ll play 19 total games and the Fish are 0-2 entering Sunday.