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MLB Miami MarlinsWashington Nationals

Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins Engage In Important Early-Season Series

Ryan Zimmerman

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We may be just over a week into the 2014 MLB season, but the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins are about to engage in an early-season series that will yield one team control of the NL East.

The Marlins currently sit .5 games ahead of the Nationals and Atlanta Braves atop the division. They’ve gotten off to a good 5-2 start, and their five wins are by no means something to shake a stick at. Miami has scored at least four runs in their five wins. Giancarlo Stanton has two HRs and 12 RBIs as well.

The Marlins are team that not many people gave much of a chance before the season. They are a young bunch of guys, but they do have talent hidden in the lineup. In the four major offensive categories (runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage), as a team they rank inside the top-five in all four. Five players in their starting lineup have a batting average over .300.

In Washington, the Nationals have gotten off to a 4-2 start in large part because of their pitching. As a staff, they hold a 2.62 ERA and 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings. At the plate, they’ve been solid as six players have a batting average of .250 or better (minimum 10 at bats.) Adam LaRoche leads the way with two HRs and eight RBIs.

While Miami has hidden talent, Washington has obvious talent across the board. Their pitching staff is one of the most feared in baseball. The lineup could destroy any other staff in the league. With names like Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, the lineup is full of All-Star potential.

With just .5 games separating them in the standings, the winner of this series would be able to take control of the division. If either team were to sweep the series, then it would give them a sizable advantage in the big picture and set the other back a considerably. As the Nationals showed us last season, it’s very difficult to dig out of an early season hole.

Should Miami sweep the series, it would put them 3.5 games ahead of the Nationals and Washington would drop to 4-5 and potentially into the division’s cellar. If Washington pulls off a sweep, it would move them three games ahead and possibly move Miami to the basement. However this shakes out, there’s a lot more on the line than meets the eye.

Falling into an early-season hole is never a good thing and the NL East could likely end up more competitive than once believed. When the Marlins and Nationals go toe-to-toe in our nation’s capital, the outcome will put one team in good position to pull away from the division early in the season.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.