Braves Travel to Florida for Three-Game Set With Marlins

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Derek Lowe Starts the Opener on Thursday. Photo Courtesy of Tim Evearitt.

Florida was recently hit by a tropical storm but the Braves are taking their own storm down to Miami to face the Marlins (I thought of that all by myself). Both teams are winning as of late and the pitching matchups appear even for the series ahead.

The Marlins are 9-5 since seeing the Braves in the beginning of the month; hardly mind-blowing but good for them nonetheless, and it’s brought them to within a game of .500. Despite a middle-of-the-road team average, they have one of the worst team OPS at .716 due to one of the worst SLG percentages at .394. That’s even worse than the Braves. They also strike out more than any team at 23.4% and have the worst BB/K in the NL at 0.38. What does all this mean? They can’t hit.

Gaby Sanchez has been one of the lone bright spots on offense for the Marlins, posting a team-leading .371 wOBA. Hanley Ramirez is having perhaps his worst season in the majors and is second at .366, compared to his last three seasons of over .400. His power is also down considerably and he’s in the middle of a 4-23 slump. Dan Uggla is right behind at .360 and leads the team with a .187 ISO. It’s easy to see how the Marlins are ranked so low in power and hitting in general.

Derek Lowe will face Alex Sanabia in the series opener on Friday. You can almost predict Lowe’s results these days, as he has allowed six or eight hits in each of his past four starts and between two and four runs while making it through seven innings just once. His career results against the Marlins are nothing to get excited about, recording a 4.93 ERA in 76.2 innings. He has yet to face them this season.

Sanabia is a 21 year old who was a rather odd call up from AA in late June, but he has performed well in 17 innings, allowing just five runs and walking four while striking out 17. He has been solid in two starts, including five-plus shutout innings against the Nationals in his most recent. Sanabia throws the usual fastball that runs with a hard slider and good changeup. His slider has been knocked around some so far but the fastball and changeup have been valuable.

Kris Medlen and Anibal Sanchez face off Saturday night. Since moving to the bullpen to skip a start, Medlen hasn’t been that great, giving up three earned runs in five innings, including allowing the winning runs in the 12th inning against the Padres in their most recent series. I feel once Medlen moves back to the rotation at his normal pace things will go back to the usual. He has allowed five earned runs in 15 career innings against the Marlins and allowed just one run in six-plus innings against them in their last series.

Sanchez’s command continues to be an issue in what will be his first season at over 115 innings thrown. He’s only striking out hitters at a clip of 6.17 K/9 while walking 3.38 BB/9. He has been unlucky with a .326 BABIP and 69.7 LOB%, but he isn’t missing bats and when he doesn’t he gives up hits. Sanchez has had varied results against the Braves in his career, posting a 4.65 ERA in 62 innings. He has faced them twice this season, allowing six runs in 12.1 innings.

Jair Jurrjens will go for the Braves in the series finale. Jurrjens is making his second start of the week and it’s coming at the best time, as he has been on fire lately, allowing two runs in his last 13.2 innings, including seven innings of one-run ball against the Padres last time out, striking out seven. Jurrjens has had mixed results against the Marlins in 35 career innings, allowing 17 runs on 36 hits. He has yet to face them this season.

With Nate Roberton being DFA’d after his last blowup, the Marlins have an empty spot for the third game. Nolasco could start on short rest. He has struck out 50 in his last 41.1 innings pitched while walking eight. He has gone at least seven innings in five of his last six starts, including allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings against the Braves in their last series, striking out 11 and walking one. If it’s Chris Volstad, well, he’s just not very good. Lets hope for him. Otherwise, I don’t know who it would be, so I’m not going to pretend I know.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Florida Marlins

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