The Braves begin a three game set at the new home of the Marlins tonight when Tim Hudson squares off against Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez has pitched well against us then suddenly exploded his 4-10 record and 5.11 ERA when facing the Braves show him to be a very unpredictable arm who posses good stuff. This year Sanchez is 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.065 WHIP. In short he’s settled in to be the pitcher everyone thought he would be. Hudson is still the Braves most dependable starter. His last two outings weren’t up to his usual standard and he’ll hope to get that back on track tonight when he takes the mound in the new ballpark in Miami for the first time.
Tomorrow night’s game features Josh Johnson and Randall Delgado. Johnson had a rough start but is rounding into form. His 4.83 ERA and 1.532 WHIP reflect his rough start but he’ll be at home with the revitalized and hot Marlins behind him so he’ll be tough. Delgado has been up and down as well this year. When the Braves weren’t scoring behind him he pitched well but lost. In St. Louis he got some runs early and got the victory. Randall needs to avoid the big inning that usually arrives about the 4th and ruins his day. If he does that this could be a nice little pitching duel.
Thursday we have a rematch between Mark Buehrle and Mike Minor. Buehrle had a rough outing against the Phillies surrendering four runs in five innings to take the loss. Prior to that he had been as steady as always going into the seventh inning twice, eighth inning twice and throwing a complete game against the Padres. Minor needs to right the ship. His last starts caused the Braves enough concern that they sent Kris Medlen down to Gwinnett to stretch him out for a rotation spot. That spot could be Minor’s if he continues to struggle.
As a prelude to the series I spoke with Ehsan Kassim over at our sister sight Marlins Maniac to get his views on the Fish and how he sees the series. You can find my half of the chat and his post on the series by clicking this link.
Thanks for chatting with me today Eshan. Let’s start off with some club news.
Take: The Marlins recently sent Gaby Sanchez down. Sanchez was in a slump but projected as a nice six hole bat. What do the Marlins faithful think of that and will he be back or traded for an outfielder so LoMo can play first?
The smart move for the Marlins would be to trade Gaby Sanchez for an outfielder and get LoMo to first base for good. Morrison looks significantly better fielding at first then he does in the outfield. The Marlins would receive a fair amount for Gaby as he is a starting first baseman and under team control for another few seasons. Sanchez is a better hitter then he has shown this season.
In all likelihood, the Marlins will bring back Sanchez in the next few weeks and move LoMo back to left. This will make the Marlins lineup a lot stronger. If Gaby turns things around upon his return, and (Emilio) Bonifacio returns from his injury, the Marlins would clear out two of their three hitter hitting below the Mendoza line. Right now, whether it is Gaby or a new outfielder, the Marlins are going to need help in their lineup.
Take: You have to be please with Carlos Zambrano’s performance this year and he’s one of your best bench bats. What do you believe brought about this turnaround and will it last?
His turnaround, at least according to him has to do with him “finding God.” I think it has a little to with Ozzie Guillen’s presence as well. Guillen is a calming influence on Big Z, as weird as that sounds. Zambrano is keeping his emotions in check as well. A few weeks ago was the perfect example, after a strikeout, Zambrano was about to break his bat, but then thought better about it and walked away. He is a new man this season and it is good to see that he is not wasting his talents.
As for whether he can keep it up or not, I do not think he is as good as he is pitching this season. He will not have a sub-3.00 ERA by the end of the season. He will likely be around a 3.80-4.00 ERA range for the rest of the season, still as the Marlins number 4 starter, its something the team will take happily. Not many teams have as good as a bottom of the rotation as the Marlins do.
Take: Who’s hot?
Currently, Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes are playing really well. Reyes is currently riding a 14-game hitting streak. Reyes has raised his average to .278 after a slow start. Reyes hit .297 in the month of June and went 6-for-12 in the series against the Phillies. Reyes has been phenomenal when it comes to plate discipline this season, as he has walked more then he has struck out. Reyes’ turnaround for the season started the teams recent play and he will be a key factor into the Marlins winning the rest of this season.
Hanley Ramirez carried the Marlins in the series vs the Phillies. Hanley with his two homers on Saturday, now has the second most homers in Marlins history. He has hit two homer runs in his past three games. Hanley now has 11 home runs this season, after hitting just 10 all of last season. The key to his resurgence has been his refinding his stroke and the ability to stay healthy. Ramirez is making it a debatable question in Miami again on who the teams best player is. Hanley’s WAR is currently at 1.8 and Stanton is sitting at a 1.9 WAR.
Speaking of Stanton, the player of the month of May, he has been an absolute beast. His numbers in the month of May were nothing short of historic. Stanton became the first player since Joe DiMaggio to hit over .300 in a month with at least 12 homers and 30 RBI’s. Stanton certainly put on a show in May. He hit a grand slam off of Jamie Moyer that obliterated the scoreboard, he also hit a walk-off grand slam against the Mets, and visited the Budweiser Garden and had a quick drink on one of his home runs. There is nothing negative to say about Stanton right now, he is doing it all. He has done an excellent job fielding his position this month as well.
Special mention goes to Omar Infante. He has not been on fire as of lately, but he is still posting very solid numbers this season and has been one of the Marlins most consistent players.
Take: Who’s not?
The Marlins have a few players that have not been playing well recently. Bryan Petersen, Chris Coghlan, and John Buck come to mind right away. Buck was a extreme disappointment last season and has not been any better this season. The Marlins are throwing a blackhole in the lineup each time Buck takes the field. The Marlins have Brett Hayes as a backup, but he is not someone that will produce in a full-time role either. With the Marlins investing in Buck last season, they will give him as many chances as possible.
Petersen and Coghlan have taken the roles of starters Emilio Bonifacio and Gaby Sanchez. Neither of them have done a good job replacing those two. Coghlan has played a little better as of late, but he is still ways away from how he played during his rookie of the year season. Petersen on the other hand has shown no signs of life at the plate, with Austin Kearns almost ready to return from the DL, playing time for Petersen is about to dwindle down.
Take: What’s concerns you most about the rest of the season?
How will the Marlins bottom of the order produce, as I refereed to in my two earlier answers. Someone will need to step up and provide the Marlins will some backup to Stanton and Logan Morrison. The Marlins top of the order is carrying the offense right now, but in the future the team will need the bottom of the order to produce to help alleviate the burden on the top of the order.
Take: What do you expect from the pitching matchups this series?
I believe the Marlins hold an advantage in each of the three pitching match-ups. The Marlins have three of their best pitchers going for them. Anibal Sanchez has been the Marlins most consistent starter the past three seasons. He recently had a streak of 16 straight quality starts snapped two starts ago, but Anibal was able to bounce back and pitch well last time out. Hudson will oppose him and he is a pitcher that always pitches well against the Marlins, so I expect an exciting and close game.
The second game will be Josh Johnson against Delgado. I think the Marlins will be able to have some success against Delgado and if Johnson can have a strong start, the Marlins will be well primed to win the game. Johnson has had mixed success against the Braves recently.
The final game will be a rematch of the first game of the season series between the two teams. Mark Buehrle and Mike Minor will oppose each other in a fast paced game. Minor has struggled a lot recently and Buehrle is coming off of a bad start. It will be an interesting game to watch.
Thanks again Eshan I appreciate your time and help.
That’s A Wrap
The Braves need to play well in Miami as the Fish are going to be tough all years long. They have power allover the diamond and improving pitching particularly now that Heath Bell is back on track as their closer. I’d like to say we’ll sneak the series but I suspect it’s more likely we’ll get one tonight with Huddy on the bump. Predicting how Minor will pitch is a crap shoot. Josh Johnson and Randall Delgado hold the key to the series for me. If we can get to Johnson and give Randall some support we might sneak out of town with a series victory.