Marlins, out to keep pace in wild-card race, take on Nats

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The Miami Marlins, who have lost six of their past eight games and are two games back of the last National League wild-card spot, return home on Friday to face the Washington Nationals.

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Miami will open the three-game series with left-hander Braxton Garrett (7-4, 3.94 ERA) on the mound.

The Marlins are 18-7 this year when starting Garrett, who is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in four career starts against Washington. He beat the Nationals on June 17, throwing six innings of one-run ball and striking out eight.

Garrett’s career results are very similar at home (6-8, 4.07 ERA in 27 games) and on the road (6-6, 3.96 ERA in 25 contests).

Nick Fortes likely will be Garrett’s catcher again on Friday. In 39 career games together, the duo has a 3.63 ERA. The Marlins‘ other catcher, Jacob Stallings, has worked with Garrett just three times (6.39 ERA).

Miami’s lineup is without outfielder Avisail Garcia, who sustained a left hamstring injury on Tuesday and was placed on the 10-day injured list a day later. Otherwise, the Marlins‘ offense — led by right fielder Jorge Soler and second baseman Luis Arraez — is healthy.

Soler leads Miami in homers (33), RBIs (68) and runs (68). Arraez leads the majors in batting average (.355), and he tops the Marlins in OPS (.854).

Pitching is another issue. The Marlins have seven pitchers on the injured list, including starters Johnny Cueto, Trevor Rogers and rookie Max Meyer.

Another rehabbing pitcher, Sixto Sanchez, who is on Triple-A Jacksonville’s injured list, threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. Sanchez hasn’t appeared in an major league or minor league game since 2020 due to shoulder problems.

“I actually watched his last (bullpen session) and he had a batter standing in against him, so that was progress,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “We just have to go according to how he’s feeling.”

Of more immediate importance, reliever Tommy Nance was activated from the injured list on Thursday after recovering from a shoulder injury. He is due to make his 2023 major league debut this weekend. The right-hander had a 1.32 ERA in the minors this year, covering 13 2/3 innings.

Washington, meanwhile, is tied with the New York Mets for last place in the NL East, but the Nationals have won four consecutive series. On Thursday, while the Marlins were idle, the Nationals defeated the host New York Yankees 6-5 to take that three-game set.

The Nationals, who won the World Series in 2019 before tearing down their roster, have a youth movement that centers on, among others, 22-year-old shortstop CJ Abrams and 25-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz.

Abrams has hit 14 homers this season, the latest a solo shot in the seventh inning against the Yankees on Thursday. He also went deep in the series opener on Tuesday.

“I’m not trying to hit home runs,” Abrams said. “They just happen at the right time, I guess.”

Abrams, a former first-round pick, also leads Washington in steals with 33 on 36 attempts.

Ruiz has smacked a career-high 15 homers this year. He makes consistent contact, and he is starting to drive the ball better. However, he missed the Thursday game because he was feeling lightheaded after being hit by a foul ball off his mask the previous night.

The Nationals are expected to start right-hander Joan Adon (1-0, 7.00 ERA) on Friday. He is 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins, both of those outings occurring last year in Miami.

In his most recent start, Adon got a no-decision against the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 18 after allowing six runs on six hits in four innings.

—Field Level Media

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