Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

The Mets return to Queens to begin a three-game set against the Florida Marlins tonight. Here are some things to know about the Mets’ opponent:

Record: 53-55, fourth place NL East
Manager: Jack McKeon, lifetime 1,032-955 (.519%) managerial record, NL Manager of the Year in 1999 and 2003. The Marlins are now 21-15 since McKeon took over.
Park: The Mets begin a 10 game homestand at Citi Field this week.

Quickly…
Can they hit? More than before
Can they pitch? Almost
Can they field? Somewhat
Who’s their best player? Hanley Ramirez. He’s come back to life in the second half.

Lineup:
3B – Emilio Bonifacio – S
2B – Omar Infante – R
1B – Gaby Sanchez – R
SS – Hanley Ramirez – R
LF – Logan Morrison – L
RF – Mike Stanton – R
CF – Mike Cameron – R
C – John Buck – R

The Marlins’ offense has been waking up. After a dismal June that saw Florida hit .225/.284/.340 as a team and score 81 runs, the worst offensive showing in the league, they’ve rebounded to a .268/.347/.434 line in July, scoring 134 runs, the second-highest run total in the NL. The biggest difference makers have been Hanley Ramirez, who hit .299/.387/.515 with five home runs after struggling through the season’s first three months, and Emilo Bonifacio, who hit .385 with a .473 on-base percentage, stole 16 bases and scored 26 runs. One awful month sunk their season, but the Marlins offensive isn’t terrible by any stretch . . .

Especially because of the big guy in the middle. Mike Stanton leads the Marlins in home runs, RBI, runs, and slugging percentage. The rest of the league is using the thin yellow wiffle bats, and Stanton’s smacking tennis balls with a taped-up bat filled with newspaper. His 465-foot blast in May is the longest home run in Citi Field history:

By the way, Stanton is hitting .455/.571/1.091 against Mike Pelfrey in 14 plate appearances. Two home runs, a double, two singles, three walks and a strikeout. Small sample size, but I’m willing to bet this continues.

Pitching Matchups:

August 1: RHP Javier Vazquez (7-9, 5.10 ERA) vs RHP Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.55 ERA)

If you squint really hard, Vazquez is starting to show signs of life. He has a 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 4.33 ERA in 11 starts since the beginning of June – he’s still giving up a lot of home runs, but he’s always given up a lot of home runs. More importantly, Vazquez’s fastball velocity is back in the low-90s after sitting in the mid-80s during some starts in the early season. His curveball is as good as ever, but he needs that good fastball to keep batters off his swing-and-miss secondary pitches.

August 2: LHP Brad Hand (1-3, 2.73 ERA) vs LHP Chris Capuano (9-10, 4.51 ERA)

The Marlins finally, mercifully, send Chris Volstad down to the minor leagues, calling up Brad Hand in his place. Hand, who is 21-years-old and has never pitched in Triple-A, jumped up from Double-A to make six spot starts in the majors this season. He’s allowed just 11 runs in those six starts, but that ERA is deceptive – Hand has walked more batters than he’s struck out, and six of the 18 hits he allowed left the ballpark. He works quickly and throws a lot of fastballs, but Hand isn’t ready for the majors yet. The Marlins simply don’t have anyone else.

August 3: RHP Clay Hensley (1-3, 3.09 ERA) vs RHP Dillon Gee (10-3, 3.69 ERA)

Clay Hensley. Again. This will be Hensley’s fourth start of the season, and three will have come against the Mets. If the Marlins keep the same five-man rotation through August, Hensley will face the Mets again at the end of the month. So get used to him.

Bench:
C – Brett Hayes – R
IF – Greg Dobbs – L
IF – Wes Helms – R
OF – Bryan Petersen – L
OF – Dewayne Wise – L

What does everyone think about the new “Planet of the Apes” movie? The previews are appealing . . . but it’s a also monkey movie starring James Franco. Someone will need to convince me it’s not an extended SNL skit. Or the beginning of an eventual James Franco presidential bid.

Bullpen:
RHP – Leo Nunez
LHP – Michael Dunn
LHP – Randy Choate
RHP – Edward Mujica
RHP – Burke Badenhop
RHP – Brian Sanches
RHP – Steve Cishek

This group still leads the league in appearances, and with their manager’s taste for pulling relievers mid-batter, that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. There’s a lot of talent out there – Florida relievers are tied for fourth in the league in bullpen FIP – but no one has distinguished themselves. There’s a lot of ERAs in the 3.00 range out there, which is good but not great for relievers. It’s a group of seven good-but-not-great relief pitchers. Which is probably why they’re all still here after the trade deadline Sunday.

And those were some things to know about the Marlins.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

  1. They have the Mets number…It’s uncanny how the Mets choke when they play them…I say Fla takes at least 2 of 3

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