The Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins are limping toward the finish line, dreaming of better days in the future.
Washington, which will host Miami for a three-game series that begins on Friday, has the worst record in the major leagues (49-94). The Nationals have lost five straight games, and their run differential is also the worst in the majors.
Miami (59-85) has lost or tied seven straight series. The Marlins’ last series win was Aug. 22-24 at the Oakland A’s, who are the worst team in the American League.
Washington’s big hope is rookie shortstop CJ Abrams, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft, selected by the San Diego Padres. Abrams, who turns 22 next month, was acquired in last month in the Juan Soto trade.
In 72 games overall this year, Abrams is batting .232 with eight doubles, one triple, two homers, 17 RBIs and a .577 OPS. He also has three steals in seven tries, and the Nationals are pleased with his defense.
“Once he gets stronger, you’re going to see more homers,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said of the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Georgia native. “When he gets on base, he’s electric.”
In Washington’s 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, the Nationals were without veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who has eye inflammation that is causing blurry vision.
On Friday, the Nationals will start right-hander Josiah Gray (7-9, 5.06 ERA). He hasn’t pitched since getting knocked out in just 3 1/3 innings on Sept. 8 against the host St. Louis Cardinals.
In his two-year career, his best numbers are when he goes on four days of rest (7-3, 3.54 ERA in 18 starts). With six-plus days of rest, he has a 9.00 ERA in one start.
Against the Marlins, Gray is 1-2 with a 4.46 ERA in six career starts, 0-2 with a 5.24 ERA in two starts this year. In Miami, he is 1-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts.
The Marlins will start lefty Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.81 ERA).
Luzardo is 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three career starts against Washington.
The Marlins’ offense enters the weekend ranked 28th in the majors in runs scored. A major problem for Miami is the back injury — actually a stress fracture — that has sidelined second baseman Jazz Chisholm since June 28.
In 60 games before landing on the injured list, Chisholm became just the sixth Marlins player voted to start an All-Star Game, posting an .860 OPS. He had 10 doubles, four triples, 14 homers, 12 steals and 45 RBIs.
Without Chisholm, the Marlins have gone 26-45 while averaging just 2.7 runs.
Chisholm, 24, is being held out for the rest of the season.
“I thought I would be back in two or three weeks,” Chisholm said. “The toughest part is not being able to help the team. You look at the numbers and, when I was in there, we did a little more winning. I feel like I can help.”
–Field Level Media