The Miami Marlins, trying to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 2003, will host the Washington Nationals on Saturday night for the third of a five-game series.
Miami and Washington split a doubleheader on Friday. Washington won the opener 5-0, but Miamiwon the nightcap 14-3 as Brian Anderson had three homers and seven RBIs. He is the third Marlins player to hit three homers in a game, and he is the fifth Marlins player with seven RBIs.
The Marlins' current homestand, which began Sept. 10 and features 15 games in 11 days, has been an endurance test for Miami, leaving manager Don Mattingly with some tough decisions on when to rest certain players.
"Trying to push a player for an extra game and then him missing four or five ends up hurting you in a bigger way," Mattingly said. "Even though there aren't many games left in the regular season, you have to use good judgment on risk/reward."
Saturday's pitching matchup will feature Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (2-5, 4.10 ERA) with six days of rest against Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez (4-4, 4.02 ERA) on four days of rest.
Corbin tends to pitch better with more rest. In his career, he has a 4.03 ERA with four days of rest and a 3.83 ERA with five. However, with at least six days of rest, Corbin is 14-7 with a 3.40 ERA in 26 starts.
In 11 career starts against the Marlins, he is 4-2 with a 3.36 ERA. But his ERA in four starts at Marlins Park jumps to 4.70 with a 2-1 record.
Last season, a case could be made that Corbin -- 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA - was the best No. 3 starter in baseball, fitting in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and helping the Nationals to their first World Series title.
This season, though, Strasburg is out due to injury, and the 31-year-old Corbin hasn't been nearly as effective. The Nationals are just 2-7 when Corbin starts this year, and he has lost five straight decisions.
Corbin has battled, and that's reflected in his most recent effort, in which he allowed nine hits but just two runs in seven innings, striking out eight in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"We just couldn't score any runs for (Corbin)," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
He struck out a season-high nine batters in his only start against the Marlins this year, on Aug. 21. The Marlins won that game in Washington as Corbin allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Lopez, meanwhile, will be making his team-high 10th start of the season. The Marlins are just 4-5 when he pitches, even though he has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his nine starts. The only exceptions came on Sept. 4 and 9, a two-game stretch during which he allowed 12 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, inflating his ERA.
But Lopez recovered in his most recent start, allowing just one run, three hits and no walks in seven innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
In his only start against the Nationals this year, Lopez earned the win on Aug. 24. He allowed three runs, none earned, in five innings. That was his first career win against Washington (1-2, 7.24 ERA in six starts).
Lopez is more comfortable at Marlins Park (3.28 in 21 career starts) than on the road (6.45 ERA in 19 starts).
One more concern for Lopez is the gopher ball. He allowed just one homer total in his first six starts. But he has allowed one homer in each of his past three starts.
--Field Level Media