MIAMI (SportsDirect Inc.) – When healthy, Jose Fernandez has been dazzling during his brief career – especially at home. The young Miami Marlins ace will try to make history when he takes the mound against the visiting Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Fernandez will make his first start since Aug. 7, and a win would make him 16-0 all-time at Marlins Park, matching the major-league record for home victories without a loss to begin a career. He will face a reeling Washington team that has dropped four straight to crush its playoff hopes. The Nationals were the overwhelming favorite to win the National League East in the preseason, but Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Marlins dropped them to two games over .500 and 8 1/2 back of the New York Mets in the division. Miami has won eight of its last 10 as it fights to avoid the NL East cellar.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (4-4, 4.41 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jose Fernandez (4-0, 2.30)
Roark returned to the rotation Sept. 4 after pitching out of the bullpen for most of the season and allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against Atlanta. The 28-year-old Illinois native is 3-1 with a 5.21 ERA in seven starts this season and has only two quality starts. Roark is 2-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 10 appearances (four starts) against the Marlins.
Fernandez was terrific in seven starts following his return from Tommy John surgery, recording six straight quality starts before giving up two runs over five innings Aug. 7 at Atlanta, where he suffered a biceps strain that sent him back to the disabled list. The 23-year-old has been nearly unhittable in 24 career home starts, never having allowed more than three runs in a game. Fernandez has dominated the Nationals in four meetings, going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA.
- Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman is batting .435 during an 11-game hitting streak but has missed the past three games with a left oblique injury.
- Marlins C J.T. Realmuto is 11-for-28 during an eight-game hitting streak.
- Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
PREDICTION: Marlins 4, Nationals 2
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