The Marlins’ opening day lineup against Stephen Strasburg


Evan Vucci / AP

Nationals opening day starter Stephen Strasburg has surprisingly found occasional trouble against the Marlins, the team he’ll oppose tomorrow at Nationals Park. Overall, he has a stellar record – 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA over nine starts. But it was the Marlins who tormented him at the end of his truncated 2012 season. He made two of his three final starts against them, allowing 10 earned runs and 15 hits over just eight innings. Those performances convinced the Nationals to end his season one or two starts sooner than originally planned. Strasburg even wondered if the Marlins had been able to steal signs.

The Marlins are a changed team, though, after an offseason fire sale. It would be hard to imagine any pitcher, let alone a starter with the arsenal of Strasburg, having much trouble with the lineup the Marlins will use opening day:

1 Juan Pierre, LF

2. Chris Coghlan, CF

3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF

4. Placido Polanco, 3B

5. Rob Brantly, C

6. Donovan Solano, 2B

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Adieny Hechavarria, SS

9. Ricky Nolasco, SP

Stanton has terrorized Nationals pitching in the past, hitting .341/.429/.739 with 14 homers in 161 career plate appearances. But that may be different this year – with Polanco hitting behind him, the Nationals will have no reason to throw him strikes or fastball. One National predicted, only half-jokingly, that Stanton will draw 160 intentional walks this year. “Why would you pitch to him?” he said.

The Marlins also made  a late change to their rotation. They placed Nathan Eovaldi on the disabled list and made the surprising move of replacing him in their rotation with 20-year-old prospect Jose Fernandez, who has never pitched above Class A. The Nationals will now face Nolasco, Kevin Slowey and Wade LeBlanc this week.

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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James Wagner · March 30, 2013

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