for this game

Marlins-Nationals Preview

Apr 9, 2016 - 9:22 PM When Joe Ross was called up in June and July, Washington was in first place both times and hoping to bridge a gap until Stephen Strasburg was healthy. Anything the 22-year-old gave the Nationals was a bonus, and he gave them plenty even though their season tanked.

This year, Strasburg is healthy but Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are gone. Beginning Sunday against the Miami Marlins, Ross' role comes with higher expectations as he attempts to move beyond a trying spring, but he had very little trouble last season at Nationals Park.

That fill-in work resulted in a 5-5 record and 3.64 ERA in 13 starts and three relief efforts, including 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA and a 37-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nine home appearances.

Ross had a 2.79 ERA in four March outings before missing 12 days with a bruised heel after being hit by a line drive. The right-hander then gave up eight runs and 12 hits - two home runs - in five innings April 2 in his final tune-up and ended the spring with a 6.75 ERA and .394 opponent batting average.

"Big innings," Ross said. "I feel like I've got to work a little bit on getting out of those jams with runners on and less than two outs."

He's up against Tom Koehler, whose 378 2-3 innings over the past two seasons for the Marlins are 169 1-3 more than next-best and since-departed Henderson Alvarez.

The right-hander's 4.05 spring ERA was right in line with his 4.08 last season with an 11-14 record in 31 starts and one relief effort, and Miami is hoping for more stability in a rotation that's had its share of injuries in recent seasons.

"I feel good, strong, healthy, that's the most important thing," Koehler told MLB's official website. "I like where my stuff is right now. I feel like if I go into those games with a good mix, and a good plan, we should be successful."

It's rarely worked out in Washington, where Koehler is 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA - his worst in any park where he's made more than two starts. He at least won't have to deal with Ben Revere, who is 10 for 22 in their matchups but landed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a right oblique strain. Bryce Harper, however, is 7 for 24 against Koehler with five home runs.

Another Sunday would be Harper's 100th overall at 23 years, 177 days old, making him the eighth youngest to reach the mark and put him ahead of Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr.

He got No. 99 as Miami (1-2) opened the series with Thursday's 6-4 victory to deny Nationals manager Dusty Baker a win in his home debut and give Don Mattingly his first in charge of the Marlins.

Friday was a scheduled off day and Saturday's game was postponed because of cold weather. It has been rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader May 14.

Adeiny Hechavarria is 4 for 7 with three doubles in the last two games, while Miami has at least 10 hits in all three.

"I thought we swung the bats good all day," Mattingly said Thursday. "We've actually swung the bats pretty good all year, other than we haven't gotten out of the gate. So we got out of the gate and kind of let them back in."

Washington (2-1) got two hits and three RBIs from Daniel Murphy, who is 4 for 11 with a home run, triple, double and five RBIs in his first three games with his new team.