|Nationals visit Marlins in final road trip of season|
The Washington Nationals on Friday will open their final road series of the year -- a five-game set against the Miami Marlins to be played in just three days.
That includes doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday, which likely means the Marlins will be facing Nationals star left fielder Juan Soto a lot this weekend.
Soto, a Dominican Republic native who turns 22 next month, is having another monster year, batting .342 with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 31 RBIs in just 34 games. He has a career-high 1.178 OPS.
That's saying something for Soto, who broke into the majors as a 19-year-old star in 2018, slugging 25 doubles and 22 homers in just 116 games, helping to give him a .923 OPS. In 150 games last year, he hit 32 doubles, five triples and 34 homers, driving in 110 runs and posting a .949 OPS.
"He's maturing every year," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He knows what pitches to look for and what he can hit hard. Even on tough pitches, he's hitting them pretty good."
The Nationals are also getting outstanding play from shortstop Trea Turner, whose .995 OPS is on pace to be his best mark in six years in the majors. Turner, who leads the National League with four triples and 66 hits, is batting a career-best .344 and has scored 38 runs in 47 games.
But, despite the heroics from Soto and Turner, the Nationals -- who won the World Series last year -- are in last place in the NL East with an 18-29 record.
The Marlins, meanwhile, are one of the surprise teams in baseball. After losing 105 games and ranking as the worst team in the National League last year, the Marlins are in second place in the NL East at 25-23, which is playoff position at the moment.
Neither team has fully announced its pitching plans for Friday. The Marlins list rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez as a starter, but the team has not specified for which end of the doubleheader.
Sanchez (3-1, 1.69 ERA) is 1-0 against the Nationals, beating them 5-3 on Aug. 22 in his major-league debut. He allowed three runs in five innings in that game, which is the worst of his five starts thus far.
It's possible the Marlins will throw rookie left-hander Braxton Garrett (1-0, 1.80) in Friday's other game. Garrett would have to be recalled from the team's alternate site, but he would be pitching on four days of rest. That's because he made his major-league debut on Sept. 13, beating the Philadelphia Phillies by striking out six batters in five innings. He allowed three hits, two walks and one run.
"I'm not sure if we will make a move (to get a pitcher from the alternate site) or not," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said following his team's 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
The Nationals, who were idle on Thursday, will turn to right-hander Erick Fedde (1-3, 5.06) for his 10th appearance and seventh start of the season. He is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against Miami.
Washington has not announced its other starter. It is possible the Nationals could start left-hander Patrick Corbin (2-5, 5.10) with five days of rest and right-hander Max Scherzer (4-3, 4.04) on four days of rest.
--Field Level Media