After a victory Friday night in 11 innings, the Marlins are looking to win the weekend series against the Nationals on Saturday afternoon. Veteran Trevor Williams takes the mound for Washington, while Johnny Cueto is eligible to return from the IL today to start for the Marlins, but that has not been confirmed as of this writing.
Likely due to the uncertainty with Miami’s starting pitcher, betting odds for this game were released later than usual. The Marlins opened as the betting favorites at -115 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 9 runs. The prediction here is that the Nationals win and the under hits.
Marlins vs. Nationals Prediction
Starting pitchers: TBD vs RHP Trevor Williams (6-8, 4.82 ERA)
The biggest uncertainty with this game right now is the Marlins’ starting pitcher. Johnny Cueto went on the IL on August 18 with a viral infection and is eligible to return today. He threw a bullpen session on August 29 and could return to make the start today.
Not sure yet what the #Marlins are doing with their second extra roster spot today, but considering the plan seems to be Johnny Cueto starting Saturday, they're going to need that spot to take him off the IL. Could just be a fill-in/emergency reliever type until then.
— Jordan McPherson (@J_McPherson1126) September 1, 2023
The other potential options for the Marlins today are triple-A pitcher Geoff Hartlieb, who was recently called up, or a bullpen game.
Can confirm reports that Geoff Hartlieb is the second #Marlins September call up. Hartlieb hasn’t pitched in AAA since 8/27. Rested arm with MLB experience.
Johnny Cueto also threw live BP recently on his way back from the 15-day IL.
— Fish on the Farm (@marlinsminors) September 1, 2023
If the Marlins go with a bullpen game, it will likely be some combination of JT Chargois, George Soriano, and Bryan Hoeing for the majority of the early innings. The last time this spot in the rotation came up on August 27 (coincidentally against the Nationals and Trevor Williams), Chargois pitched the first inning then Hoeing pitched into the sixth.
Soriano may not be available today after pitching 2 innings (17 pitches) last night. Hoeing also pitched 1 inning last night (9 pitches). After using 5 relievers in yesterday’s 11-inning affair, the most likely scenario seems to be that the Marlins start either Cueto or Hartlieb to try to eat up the early innings and give the bullpen some relief (no pun intended).
That may give a small advantage to Washington, but Williams has not exactly been the most trustworthy starter this year. He has already started 3 games against Miami this season, allowing 10 runs over 17-1/3 innings. His most recent start was his best one, throwing a season-high 7 innings while allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits.
That start was the second high-quality outing in a row for Williams, who allowed just 2 hits over 6 shutout innings in his previous start against Philadelphia, who have been the most explosive offense in baseball for the last month. If Williams continues that trend, then Washington should have an edge on the mound to start the game.
Overall the Marlins are 9-2 against Washington this season having swept the first two series before dropping a series last weekend 2-1. They have a +15 run differential over those 11 games.
It is hard to continue winning that consistently against the same team, especially on the road, and especially if the Nationals get another good outing from Williams. We like the chances for Washington to avoid a sweep tonight and force Miami to win tomorrow to lock up the series.
We are also taking the under on 9 runs in this game. That is less of a vote of confidence in the pitching and more of a vote of no confidence in the lineups. The Nationals and Marlins rank 20th and 28th, respectively, in runs scored this season, and they are 27th and 30th over the last two weeks. In their 11 games so far this season, they are averaging just under 8 runs per game combined and have gone under 9 runs 7 times (with another game at 9 exactly).
Marlins vs. Nationals Prediction: Nationals moneyline (-105), under 9 runs (-110)
Marlins vs. Nationals Odds
The Marlins are the betting favorites with -115 moneyline odds, while the Nationals are also less than even money at -105 on the moneyline.
The Marlins are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +140 odds, while the Nationals are getting +1.5 runs at -166 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 9 runs, with equal -110 odds on both the over and on the under.
Marlins vs. Nationals Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Marlins vs. Nationals.
Trevor Williams vs. Luis Arraez
Williams’ two consecutive strong outings was part of the reason we picked the Nationals in our Marlins vs. Nationals prediction. Williams has struggled for most of the season, and rates as one of the worst starting pitchers this season by advanced metrics like FIP.
For that pick to pay off, Williams needs to find ways to get outs against MLB’s batting leader, Luis Arraez (.350 average). Of all the Marlins’ hitters, Arraez has the most career success against Williams with a .385 average (5-for-13) and a home run.
Arraez sets the tone for Miami’s offense, and if Williams can keep him off the bases, he will have a much easier time with the rest of Miami’s lineup.
After playing 11 innings last night, it will be important for each team to get some quality innings from their starting pitchers today and not rely too heavily on their bullpens. Miami may not have that luxury if they end up using their bullpen for the entire game, so it will become even more important for their early-inning guys to get some efficient outs.
Washington, by contrast, is 27th with a 5.18 ERA and dead last with a 5.06 FIP. They have struggled even more over the last 2 weeks with a 6.85 ERA and 6.13 FIP, while Miami has remained consistently solid over the same timeframe.
Both the Nationals moneyline and the under picks could come down to the performance of these respective bullpens.
Marlins vs. Nationals Starting Lineups (Projected)
Marlins Starting Lineup
2B Luis Arraez (L)
DH Jorge Soler (R)
1B Josh Bell (S)
CF Jazz Chisholm (L)
3B Jake Burger (R)
LF Bryan De La Cruz (R)
RF Jesus Sanchez (L)
SS Joey Wendle (L)
C Jacob Stallings (R)
Nationals Starting Lineup
SS CJ Abrams (L)
RF Lane Thomas (R)
DH Joey Meneses (R)
C Keibert Ruiz (S)
1B Dominic Smith (L)
LF Jake Alu (L)
3B Ildemaro Vargas (S)
2B Michael Chavis (R)
CF Alex Call (R)