Aug. 30 MLB Preview and Picks — Miami Marlins (48-85) at Washington Nationals (74-58)

(Kurt Suzuki photo courtesy Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Friday, Aug. 30, Nationals Park, Washington D.C., 7:05 p.m. EDT.

After turning in arguably his best start of the season, Anibal Sanchez looks for his ninth straight victory as the Washington Nationals begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night.

Hernandez looks to win back-to-back starts for first time in career

Elieser Hernandez (3-5, 4.97) has just three wins in 17 starts since breaking into the majors last year, but one of the game came in his last outing as Miami tries to play spoiler in the wild-card race.

The right-hander’s lone mistake in six innings Sunday was a two-run homer by Rhys Hoskins in the sixth, and the Marlins picked up Hernandez by rallying for three runs in the bottom of the inning to give him a 3-2 victory. The 24-year-old has struggled with consistency and blisters from outing to outing but is 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 22 innings in his last four starts.

“It’s been good to watch,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly told the club’s official website after Hernandez matched a career-high with his six innings. “We took this guy in the Rule 5 [Draft] last year. He’s worked out of the bullpen a lot. I guess we’ve kind of figured out, this guy is a lot better as a starter than he’s been as a reliever.”

The righty was on the short end of that 5-2 scoreline to Sanchez and the Nationals on the 4th of July as Suzuki and Anthony Rendon took him deep with solo shots. Hernandez permitted three runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings of that loss, and he is 0-2 as a starter against the Nationals. Those defeats bracket four scoreless relief outings and one awful one as a rookie last year — Hernandez was drilled for 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings of mop-up duty in an 18-4 pummeling.

Sanchez has come long way since 0-6 start

Sanchez (9-6, 3.81 ERA) was 0-6 with a 5.27 ERA in his first eight outings of the season, a stretch that included five consecutive losing starts on the road with a 5.40 ERA and little run support as Washington backed him with seven runs.

The right-hander’s season turned around after recovering from a strained hamstring and recording a 14-4 win at Atlanta on May 29. Sanchez hasn’t looked back since, going 8-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 15 starts. He has not always been at his best at home during this streak, however, going 2-0 with a 4.12 ERA in seven outings but getting 7.32 runs per start.

The trick for Sanchez will be to carry his road form to Nationals Park after a stellar outing at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs last Friday in which he carried a shutout into the ninth inning and finished up allowing two runs — one earned — and one hit in 8 1-3 innings of a 9-3 victory.

“Everybody talks about [Max] Scherzer, [Stephen] Strasburg, [Patrick] Corbin, Anibal is just as important to us as anybody,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told the team’s official website. “When these guys go out there on the mound, we’ve got a chance to win every day. And that’s good, the boys feed off of that.”

The Marlins have seen both versions of Sanchez, who has split two starts against his NL East rivals. He limited them to two runs in six innings of a 5-2 victory at home July 4 in the most recent matchup and improved to 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA in six career starts against the team he broke into the majors with in 2006.

Martin Prado could be in for a start for the Marlins since he is hitting .417 (15 for 36) with a home run against Sanchez.

Washington (74-58) had Thursday off after a two-game split of its Beltway Series with Baltimore, recording an 8-3 victory as Kurt Suzuki‘s two-run homer highlighted a five-run first. The Nationals, who have won 13 of their last 16 games, lead the Cubs by 2 1/2 games for the first wild-card spot in the National League.

Notable Trends

The Nationals are:

  • 6-0 in Sanchez’s last six starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 8-2 in their last 10 games following an off day.
  • 20-7 in their last 27 during game 1 of a series.

The Marlins are:

  • 1-6 in Hernandez’s last seven road starts.
  • 9-23 in their last 32 games vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 23-54 in their last 77 vs. NL East teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Nationals -1.5 runs (-125)

Sticking with the hot hand in Sanchez and the hot team in the Nationals, who have won six straight between the teams and 10 of 13 overall. Washington also swept a three-game set in Miami’s last visit to the nation’s capital and is 6-1 at home against the Marlins this year.

****4-Star Pick****

UNDER 10 runs (-115)

The full-run spike higher makes the under a strong play considering it has fared well with the Nationals coming out of an off day, going 8-2-1 in the last 11 such contests. It has also delivered in the last four games between the teams at Nationals Park. There is some worry since the over has hit in Sanchez’s last three starts, but the under hit in the previous seven.

He and Hernandez also delivered a comfortable win for the under last month when the number was also set at 10. The under has also been good to the Marlins on the road, hitting in four of Hernandez’s last five starts against teams with winning records and going 5-1-1 in the last seven against right-handers outside Miami.

The under is also 8-1 in Hernandez’s last nine starts vs. NL East teams, and if he avoids a recurrence of his blister issues, this should be another win for the under.

UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

The hook and the total make this a strong play, with the five-inning under 6-1 in Miami’s last seven games set at 5.5 runs or higher. The under is 4-1-2 in the head-to-head meetings in Washington, which includes Sanchez and Hernandez delivering a victory in their July 4 matchup.

***3-Star Picks***

Nats’ Rendon to hit HR (+280)

The Nationals third baseman is worth of a flyer here, entering this contest 8 for 26 with a pair of homers at home versus the Marlins. He is also hitting .340 (17 for 50) with three home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 10 home games.

Hernandez’s struggles to keep the ball in the park on the road play into this pick — he has served up at least one gopher ball in each of his five road starts and eight overall in just 22 1-3 innings. Rendon has also had his number, going 4 for 7 with a pair of home runs in their matchups.

Nationals 3-way ML first 5 innings (-176)

Though the Nationals are 10-4-1 at the five-inning mark during Sanchez’s unebeaten run, that record also contains a 3-4-1 mark in his last eight starts. Miami is 3-6-2 in Hernandez’s 11 start and 0-2-1 in the last three because he has gotten exactly one run of support.

Washington’s torrid play makes it the pick, but it would not be surprising to see this be a one-run outcome in either direction.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (+115)

A contrarian pick to a degree since the Marlins yielded seven first-inning runs to the Reds in their just-completed series, but Hernandez has been effective in the opening frame of late and conceded just one run in his last six starts.

Sanchez has gone unscathed through the first inning in his last five outings, and the two occasions the Marlins scored a first-inning run in their 18 road games since the All-Star break came on the road.


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