The Nats can ease into the 2013 season.
First of all, they play the depleted Miami Marlins. Second of all, the series is at the friendly confines of Nationals Park. Third of all, it's a three-game series spread over four days.
Opening Day, however, will not be that easy. The Nats will feel emboldened by sending a limitless Stephen Strasburg to the hill, but their excitement will be tempered when they face the Marlins' Opening Day starter, Ricky Nolasco.
The California native owned the Nationals last year. In four starts against the Nats, Nolasco was 2-2, but that included a complete-game shutout in both of his victories. Nolasco had a 2.45 ERA against Washington, which batted only .209 against him, for the two lowest numbers posted by Nolasco against any team that he faced more than once during the season. So, expect a low-scoring game on Opening Day.
But the 2013 Marlins are a shadow of their former selves. The Fish are without their team leaders from a year ago in batting average (Jose Reyes), runs (Reyes), OPS (Reyes), ERA (Mark Buehrle), wins (Buehrle), shutouts (Josh Johnson), saves (Heath Bell) and WHIP (Buehrle). The Marlins will also be missing a top-of-the-lineup threat while their starting rotation and their bullpen have both been stripped bare.
Despite a challenging Opening Day game, expect the Nationals to give the Marlins a rough start to what should be a very long season.
PREDICTION: Nationals sweep.
NATIONALS' RECORD: 3-0