Today, the Nationals will get their first crack at the 2011 Marlins, with Jason Marquis going against Anibal Sanchez. It’s hard to say why, exactly, the Marlins have been so difficult for the Nationals, but it’s been a remarkable run of futility. Think about how badly the Phillies have beaten the Nationals as they’ve won the last three NL East titles. Okay, well, the Nats have actually been worse against the Marlins – they’ve won 15 games against the Phillies the past three years.

The location has not mattered – the Nationals have won seven games against the Marlins over the past three years at Nationals Park, and they’ve won seven at Sun Life Stadium. They Nationals appeared as if maybe they had solved the Marlins last year, when they won four of their first seven games against Florida. Then they lost 10 of the next 11. Their centerfielder only got clotheslined in one of them.

If the Nationals ever make the climb to respectability, they will have to conquer the Marlins along the way. Their next chance starts today. Following tonight’s game, Livan Hernandez will face Chris Volstad and John Lannan will oppose Josh Johnson, a potential Cy Young winner. It’s not necessarily going to be easy.


The Nationals built their bench by prioritizing experience and character, but the pieces may not fit quite right together.