Tomahawk Take and Marlin Maniac‘s Ehsan Kassim teamed up to bring you an in-depth look into the series preview of the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. We asked Kassim about the series starters, if they have a shot at winning, about the Marlins future and if Giancarlo Stanton will be on the Marlins at seasons end. Let’s see how realistic he is about the Marlins winning….
In game one, the Marlins will send out Kevin Slowey, who is pitching in the rotation spot of Nathan Eovaldi. Slowey had a decent first start for the Marlins. He is not an overpowering pitcher, but against a Braves lineup that struggles with strikeouts, he maybe able to rack a few up.
The Marlins will send Wade LeBlanc out there for game two. LeBlanc is your typical soft-tossing lefty. He doesn’t overpower hitters and works around the zone. LeBlanc pitched well his first time out against the Nationals.
In the finale, Alex Sanabia will take the mound for the Marlins. Sanabia’s first start was deceptively bad. If you look at just the box score, it looks like he did a decent job against the Mets. He was however always pitching out of the stretch as he had baserunners on all game. If he does the same against the Braves, he will be in a world of trouble with that amazing lineup.
2. We know about Stanton, but who else in the lineup could scare us?
Justin Ruggiano and Rob Brantly are two hitters that could cause the Braves pitchers some problems. Ruggiano, 31-years old, broke out last season when he was given a full-time spot. He has many doubters out there, but he seems to be up to the task of taking over center everyday for the Marlins. He has a homer and three doubles so far this season. He can hit the ball to all fields, as he hit an opposite field homer against the Nats.
Brantly has been hitting the stuffing out of the ball since arriving with the Marlins back in July in the Anibal Sanchez trade. Brantly, the Marlins starting catcher, has hit decently in his time with the Marlins against lefties and righties. While he does not possess too much home run power, he can still rack up doubles.
3. The Braves bats seem to be on fire early this year, how can the Marlins contain them and what is your opinion on winning this series?
The Marlins may have the perfect answer to the Braves hot bats with two soft-tossing pitchers going in each game. Each pitcher will need to be on top of their command and get a bunch of groundouts for the Marlins to take advantage of the Braves aggressive offense. The Marlins defense will also need to be on top of their game, catching every ball hit to them and throwing out any Braves runners when presented an opportunity.
As for our chances of winning the series, with the pitching matchups looking to be decidedly in the Braves favor, does not look too strong. The Marlins are going to need to be on their “A” game in all three games to pull off a series win. In all likelihood, I see the Braves taking two out of three for the Fish, but I would love to say the Marlins will win the series.
4. A brand new look for the Marlins in 2013 from 2012, is this the right direction for the franchise and are you a fan of the new skipper and his managerial style?
As much as it hurt to see Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes shipped out over the course of the past 9 months, the Marlins made the right call. The 2012 team was not going to be anything more than average and without a strong minor league system, the Marlins would have had a tough time filling in holes on their roster without spending a ton of money they likely did not possess. So in terms of a baseball move, the Marlins did the right thing. But when you factor in the new stadium and the mistrust of the fans, there were a number of ways the team could have gone and saved the franchise’s reputation. None the less, owner Jeffery Loria does not give two hoots about the fans.
I like manager Mike Redmond, he was always one of my favorite Marlins players. However, his managing style leaves a lot to be desired so far, but his career is just starting and I believe it is too soon to judge what kind of manager he will be.
5. Realistically, what should we expect to see attendance wise?
Not good. The team expects there to be 30,000+ fans at the opener, but I am not highly optimistic that we will see that many people at the park Monday night. Even if they do reach that mark for Opening Day, the team does not expect the game to be a sell out, which is always a shame for the first home game of the season.
For the rest of the season, I honestly can see the teams struggling to reach the 1 million mark, but that is not putting into consideration if the team finds some sort of gimmick to draw fans or if the team by some miraculous way becomes a wild card contender near the end of the season.
6. How does the farm system look for the Marlins, when do you see the Marlins competing again?
The Marlins farm system is now seen as top 10 in baseball. That is a major improvement from where it was last season. The reason for the jump is helped along with the the trades made in the past nine months, but the development of their home grown prospects have been a major help as well.
Jose Fernandez is a consensus top 10 prospect and he proved he is big league ready with a huge big league debut, where he struck out 8 hitters. The Marlins number 2 prospect, Christian Yelich is a consensus top 20 prospect and is close to being major league ready as well. The team also has impressive pitching prospects in Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley, Mason Hope, and Austin Brice.
The Marlins best prospects should be up by the end of 2014 and with some seasoning, the team should be a force to reckon with as soon as 2016. The hope is that the team can work out a contract extension with Giancarlo Stanton by then. If they can, the Marlins team will be that much stronger with a proven super star. If he is traded, the Marlins could gain some more top prospects in any Stanton deal. A deal for Stanton would likely start with Jurikson Profar or Oscar Tavarez, the top two prospects in baseball.