The Washington Nationals are running away with the National League East, but they’re in the midst of a tough road trip. After losing three of four at Milwaukee over the weekend, the Nationals look to get back to their winning ways when they begin a three-game set against the Miami Marlins on Monday.
The Nationals are 15 games ahead of second-place Miami, and they have a seven-game cushion over the Chicago Cubs for home-field advantage in the N.L. Division Series. Washington struggled at the plate against the Brewers, scoring only eight runs in the four-game series. The Marlins are two games below .500 and five back of Colorado for the second wild card, but they’re fading fast. Miami has lost six of its last seven, including a three-game sweep at Washington last week and dropping three of four against visiting Philadelphia over the weekend.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), WUSA 9 (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH A.J. Cole (1-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Adam Conley (6-6, 5.02)
Cole has lost his last four big-league starts, but he has recorded quality starts in the last two. The 25-year-old struck out eight and allowed one run and four hits over six innings in a tough-luck loss to the New York Mets in his last outing on Aug. 25. Cole is 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in four starts against the Marlins with both losses coming this season.
Conley pitched well at Washington last time out, taking the loss despite allowing just two runs and seven hits over six innings. The 27-year-old has been hurt by the home run ball lately, allowing eight homers over 42 2/3 innings across his last seven starts. Conley is 1-4 with a 7.14 ERA in six starts against the Nationals.
1. Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman is 9-for-26 with a homer and five RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
2. Miami OF Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors with 52 home runs, is 3-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs against Cole, and he’s batting .200 with five homers and 12 RBIs against the Nationals this season.
3. Marlins OF Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 84th pinch-hit at-bat of the season Sunday, surpassing Lenny Harris’ single-season major-league record.
PREDICTION: Nationals 7, Marlins 5