Nationals-Marlins series a showcase for young outfielders

MLB

When the Washington Nationals and the host Miami Marlins close their three-game series on Thursday night, at least part of the focus will be on some young and — still unproven — outfielders.

Washington won the opener of this series, 5-1, on Tuesday. Miami earned a 4-3 walk-off win in 10 innings on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Miami will start right-hander Elieser Hernandez (0-1, 4.15 ERA). Washington will start lefty Patrick Corbin (7-12, 5.82 ERA).

As for those outfielders, the Nationals have been taking a look at 26-year-old Lane Thomas in center field. Entering Wednesday, he had reached base in 12 of his previous 19 plate appearances.

Thomas went 0-for-4 on Wednesday, but that was only because Marlins center fielder Bryan De La Cruz robbed him of extra bases with a spectacular catch at the wall.

“Lane’s playing well,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Thomas, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals just before last month’s trade deadline. “I want to see him play. He’s earned the right to play.”

Martinez also has 24-year-old Victor Robles available for center field.

“Victor is an electric player,” Martinez said. “If anybody has shown him confidence, it’s (me). I tell him every day how good he is and how good he can be. He’s going to be really good. I believe that.”

The Marlins feel the same about Jesus Sanchez, their 23-year-old right fielder.

Sanchez made one of the biggest plays of Wednesday’s game by throwing Carter Kieboom out at the plate with a sizzling two-hop throw, keeping the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 10th inning.

“That throw was right on the money,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He came aggressive.”

Mattingly credited Marlins assistant coach Keith Johnson for his work with outfielders.

“He works with these young outfielders daily,” Mattingly said. “He works on their throwing and their footwork. That play was as big as anything in the game.”

The rest of Miami’s outfield on Wednesday — when the Marlins snapped an eight-game losing streak — consisted of 24-year-old rookie De La Cruz and Lewis Brinson, Miami’s oldest fly-chaser at age 27.

On the mound Thursday, Corbin can take comfort in some solid career numbers against the Marlins: 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 14 starts.

In Miami, however, Corbin is 2-3 with a 5.66 ERA in six starts.

This year, Corbin is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against the Marlins. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his one prior visit to Miami this year.

The Nationals are 10-14 this year when starting Corbin, who allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings in his most recent start, last Friday at the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Marlins are 2-2 when starting Hernandez, who has not lasted longer than 5 1/3 innings in his abbreviated run this year.

Hernandez is 1-2 with a 7.18 ERA in nine career appearances against the Nationals, including four starts.

But Hernandez has been better at home (3.52 ERA in two starts) than he has been on the road (4.66 ERA in two starts) this year.

–Field Level Media

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