Young left-hander Brad Hand begins his first major-league stint of 2012 today, when the Miami Marlins visit Nationals Park in the opener of a doubleheader and a four-game weekend series with the host Washington Nationals.
A second-round pick of the Marlins in 2008, Hand made 12 starts in 2011 and went 1-8 while posting a 4.20 earned run average and allowing a composite .241 opposition batting average across 60 innings.
Now 22 years old, Hand opened 2012 at Triple-A New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League and was 8-5 with a 3.66 ERA in 128 innings while walking 54 batters and striking out 116.
He made two starts against the Nationals as a rookie and was 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA while surrendering five runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Miami starts righty Josh Johnson in the second game with the hopes that the 28-year-old Minnesota native will improve on an 8-1 lifetime mark against Washington.
The first-place Nationals open with lefty John Lannan, who makes his second big-league start this season and 130th of his career.
Plagued by injuries, he made 19 starts at Triple-A Syracuse of the International League and was 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA in 110 innings.
He debuted in the majors this year with a seven-inning stint against the Atlanta Braves on July 21, allowing five hits and two runs in a 5-2 victory.
Lannan last faced the Marlins on Sept. 16, 2011 and took a 3-0 loss after allowing all three runs on eight hits in six innings.
First-year Nationals righty Gio Gonzalez starts game two and faces the Marlins for the second time in three weeks.
He was a tough-luck 2-1 loser in a July 14 game in Miami after allowing two runs on five hits in six innings with nine strikeouts.
On Thursday in Atlanta, Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with a two-run double and a run scored as the Braves topped the Marlins, 6-1, in the finale of a four-game series at Turner Field.
Nathan Eovaldi's second outing in a Marlins uniform since coming over in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers did not go as he would have liked. Eovaldi (2-7) allowed six runs on eight hits in just two innings.
"I just keep going out there," Eovaldi said. "I have to try and put this one behind me. Try and learn from what happened, learn from my mistakes."
Jose Reyes ripped a triple in the sixth inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to 20 games, and Carlos Lee collected the only RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly for the Marlins, who have dropped three of their last four.
In Washington, Ross Detwiler's arm and Adam LaRoche's bat helped the Nationals salvage the final contest of their three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-0 shutout.
Detwiler (6-4) scattered three hits, walked two and struck out three over seven innings. The southpaw retired the last 14 batters he faced.
Tyler Clippard walked two batters in the ninth before striking out pinch- hitter Ryan Howard to secure his 21st save of the season.
LaRoche homered, singled twice and drove in two runs for the NL East-leading Nationals, who avoided getting swept by the cellar-dwelling Phillies.
The Marlins have won five of nine games between the teams this season, including a three-game sweep in Miami from May 28-30.
The Nationals have not won the season series since 2007.