The Nationals' Joe Ross and the Marlins' Tom Koehler will face off Saturday at Nationals Park in a matchup of right-handers whose performances are vital to their teams' success in 2016.
After being called up last June, Ross submitted a 3.64 ERA in 76 2/3 innings as a 22-year-old rookie. Now, with Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister gone, the Nationals will rely on Ross to be a reliable presence in the rotation.
Despite entering only his third full season, Koehler is the Marlins' second most experienced starter (535 career innings), behind recent signing Wei-Yin Chen (711 2/3 innings). The 29-year-old Koehler was 11-14 with a 4.08 ERA in 2015.
Koehler said he is excited heading into his first start and confident with where he is with his delivery.
"I feel good, strong, healthy, that's the most important thing," Koehler said. "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."
Things to know about this game
• Koehler struggled against Washington last season, with a 5.33 ERA in four starts.
• The 12 home runs Koehler has given up to Washington are twice as many as he has allowed to any other team. The righty's toughest Washington nemesis has been Bryce Harper, who has homered five times in 26 plate appearances against Koehler, including three times last May 6. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have gone deep off Koehler two times apiece.
• Saturday will mark Ross' first start against the Marlins. He faced Miami twice in relief last year, ceding two hits and no runs in 1 2/3 innings.
• With his first-inning single Thursday, Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich has hit safely in six straight games at Nationals Park.