Florida Marlins Series Preview

Reds Games below .500: three.  A sweep would get them even.082211-marlins_medium

The Reds head to Miami today to take on the Marlins.  The Marlins have had a tough go of it this year.  While it's hard to think they can feel too disappointed given their opening day payroll of just $58 million, I think a lot of folks expected the Marlins to be in the 85-game range...not unlike the Reds.  But they've really struggled this season, and are currently 25 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.

If there's one area where the Marlins are reasonably good, it's their bullpen.  The Reds have gotten equivalent results, but the Marlin's peripheral numbers are better, which means they are more likely to continue having that success moving forward.  But their rotation has struggled horrifically, their offense has not been good, and by most measures, their fielding has been below-average as well.  On top of that, Hanley Ramirez is hurt.  And Logan Morrison, one of their better players, was recently sent down--as best as I can tell--for a combination of too much twittering plus failing to appear at some meet and greet.  Or something.  It's sort of a mess in Florida right now.

Sun Life Stadium Park Factors

via statcorner.com

wOBA (LHB/RHB): 100/101
HR: 99/95

Overall, it's pretty close to a neutral park.  Slight negative effect on home runs to righties, but that's countered by more singles, doubles, and especially triples.

Position Players

082211-marlinshit_medium

So there's Mike Stanton, who has the best raw power of pretty much anyone in professional baseball, plus the skills to use it.  And there's Gaby Sanchez, who is sort of a second-tier first baseman who has struggled after a really nice start to the season.  And then, there's not much else.  Emilio Bonifacio quite possibly has the least power in all of baseball, and is somehow enjoying league average hitting this year (I think he's massively over-achieving).  He's currently filling in for the injured Hanley Ramirez.

Bryan Peterson, the rookie, is enjoying some playing time with Logan Morrison being demoted to AAA.  He's a former mid-tier prospect who had a horrific year last year in AAA (.255/.332/.354), but followed with a superb year this year (.351/.434/.569 in 286 PA's) while repeating the level.  He's 25, so maybe he figured something out.  But I think he's more of a #3/#4 outfielder than something special.

Hello to DeWayne Wise!

Probable Starters

082211-marlinspit_medium

With Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad, you have two of the more frustrating pitchers in baseball.  At least for their fans.  Their peripheral numbers all look pretty darn good.  Respectable K's, better-than-average walk rate (especially Nolasco), and good to great ground ball rate (especially Volstad).  And yet both have ERAs that are far above their SIERAs or xFIPs.  Part of this, I think, is likely to be the Marlin's bad fielding.  And part of it is probably just bad luck.  With Volstad, however...a two run gap between ERA and SIERA/xFIP is enormous, and you have to wonder if something else is going on.  In the 540 innings of his career, his ERA is a half-run worse than his xFIP, so I think at least some of that is predictive.  But not by two runs.  He's a decent pitcher, and can win a ballgame.

Really, Vazquez looks pretty similar, though his fly ball rate is bad enough that it's hard to see him having a lot of success.  Vazquez is a great example of how pitchers can just break.  Overnight, going from Atlanta to New York, he lost more than 2 mph off his fastball.  His velocity is up 1 mph over last year, but he's not the pitcher he used to be.

As far as match-ups go, the Reds look pretty even with the Marlins in games 1 & 2 (if you believe ERAs then the Reds should be heavily favored in game 1).  Game three might lean more towards the Marlins (though again, if you believe ERA, then Bailey should be heavily favored).

Bullpens

082211-marlinspen_medium

These look like pretty evenly matched bullpens.  The Marlins have a solid, but not outstanding, group of relievers to work with here.  Leo Nunez isn't my favorite closer in the world, but he strikes guys out and keeps the walks down, which is about all you can ask.  Mike Dunn and Ed Mujica form a decent setup combination, with Dunn the primary weapon against the Reds' Jay Bruce and Joy Votto in later innings.  I'm also interested in this guy Steve Cishek, who looks very impressive: 9+ k/9, <3 bb/9, 50+% ground balls?  That's what I'm talking about.  His minor league numbers are sort of all over the place, though, so I don't know if this is likely to continue.

It's a series the Reds can win, which would make two straight winning series.  Go Reds!

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