MARLINS (16-33) AT NATIONALS (21-31)
1:35 p.m. ET; MASN, FS-F, MLB.TV
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is hitting .500 — 17-for-34 — during a red-hot nine-game hitting streak.
On Sunday, Soto will lead the Nationals against the visiting Miami Marlins. The Nationals have won the first two games of a series that ends on Monday.
Soto said he is seeing the ball well.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball,” Soto said, “and let’s see what happens.”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he likes Soto’s approach of late.
“When he starts using the middle of the field, he’s really good,” Martinez said. “He’s been doing that.”
In Sunday’s game, Soto will face Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith (3-1, 2.38 ERA). Smith has been Miami’s best pitcher this season and has had at least six strikeouts in all nine of his appearances.
Smith, who made his major league debut in 2017, is averaging a career-best 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He has faced Washington just once, beating the Nationals on April 19, striking out eight in six innings while allowing no walks and one run.
Washington will counter with right-hander Erick Fedde (0-0, 2.87 ERA), who has not faced the Marlins this year. In fact, for his career, he is 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA against the Marlins, making just one appearance.
This season, Fedde has been used primarily out of the bullpen. He will make just his second start of the season against Miami, and he has been outstanding.
Out of his six appearances, he has not been scored on in four of them, gave up one run in five innings in another and had just one subpar performance.
Fedde, a first-round pick in 2014, is part of the Golden Age of Las Vegas baseball. The list of Vegas-area players currently in the majors — all of them first-rounders — also includes sluggers Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo.
The rebuilding Marlins, meanwhile, would love to have one of those sluggers — or just anybody who can provide consistent power. They rank last in the majors in homers with 35, and they are the only team in the National League without a triple all season.
“We’re not really a home-run club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said in what has to be viewed as an understatement.
The Marlins, who have the worst record in the National League, have improved lately. They won a season-best six games in a row before dropping two straight against Washington.
Part of the improvement has come from third baseman/right fielder Brian Anderson, who slumped to start the season.
Anderson, who is now hitting .231, has hit three homers in the past five games and has five for the season.
“I think (his swing) is more straight,” Mattingly said of Anderson. “When he’s diving (at the plate), he is pushing balls to right field and not getting the barrel at the right angle. But now it seems like he has cleaned that up. He’s been having better at-bats.”
Meanwhile, Washington’s bullpen, which has the worst ERA in the majors, will at least be rested on Sunday following Patrick Corbin’s second career complete game. That will likely come into play on Sunday as Fedde is not expected to go deep into the game due to the fact he has been in the bullpen most of the year.
–Field Level Media