The Atlanta Braves have won 13 straight games and are 16-4 since the All-Star break…the Miami Marlins have lost five straight games and are 8-12 since the All-Star break. The Braves are in first place in the NL East with a 70-45 in 2013, Miami is in last in the division and holds a record of 43-70.
We caught up with our buddy Ehsan Kassim, the Editor of Marlin Maniac, to go over a couple questions about the upcoming series. Maybe he can change my opinion on how bad the Marlins are (sorry Ehsan!). Here are his answers on the hot topics we asked…
Tomahawk Take: Braves are 11-0 since opening a Waffle House inside the Ted and have won 13 straight games…do you fear the Waffle House?
Marlin Maniac: Do I fear Waffle House? Of course not. In fact, I kind of wish I could attend the series and order a grilled chicken melt right about now. But should the Marlins fear Waffle House? Maybe, is it based anywhere near the visiting clubhouse? I don’t want Giancarlo Stanton to have a pregame meal there and then have gas throughout the game.
TT: Give me a breakdown of the starters we will see
MM: Jacob Turner is throwing on Friday night, making his 13th start of the season. He has been the second best pitcher in the Marlins staff, behind of course Jose Fernandez. Turner has an impressive 2.68 ERA and a 3.22 FIP. He is striking out a career high of 6.4 hitters per nine innings and recording a career high of 45.6% ground ball outs. While he is not the same pitcher that many envisioned as an ace a few seasons ago, he still has the makings of a solid number 2 or 3 pitcher.
Nathan Eovaldi is pitching in the second game and Braves fans have gotten plenty familiar with him. He has already thrown 22 innings against the Braves and owns a 3.68 ERA. Eovaldi throws the third highest fastball (at least 50 IP) in the majors, with it clocking in at 96.2 MPH. If he has his offspeed pitches working along with his fastball, Eovaldi does have a nice 3.19 ERA, but his 4.07 FIP is a better indicator of his pitching in 2013.
In the final game, the Braves get to face Henderson Alvarez. Alvarez made his first two starts of the season against the Braves. Although Alvarez struggled a bit against the Braves, he has pitched much better of late. Alvarez does not strike out many hitters, but they do tend to struggle to make contact against him. Alvarez owns a career 55.3% groundball rate and his 2013 number is starting to regress towards that number now. Alvarez owns a 2.80 ERA and a 2.76 FIP for the season.
TT: The Marlins are struggling, and fans knew going into the year they would but who other than Giancarlo Stanton who has surprised this season that we will see in this series?
MM: Obviously the biggest shock has to be rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez.The 20-year has been nothing of sensational in 2013, as he owned a 2.54 ERA and a 2.81 FIP headed into his start Thursday afternoon. The Braves have been lucky in how the schedule has played out so far, as they have yet to face the hard throwing righty. Fernandez recently became the first starter since Randy Johnson to have back-to-back 13 strikeout performances and the first rookie since Kerry Wood. That’s certainly some elite company.
The Braves will also get to see Christian Yelich in this series. The Marlins second best prospect coming into the season is currently riding a eight-game hitting streak and hit his first career home run on Thursday. The Marlins left fielder owns a .318/.366/.439 slash in his first 71 career plate appearances. Yelich owns one of the most beautiful swings from the left side that you will see in baseball.
TT: Were the Marlins thinking of trading Stanton at the deadline? What in your eyes would be a worthy trade for Stanton?
MM: The Marlins had zero interest in trading Stanton at the trade deadline. There were several reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates made a hard run at Stanton at the deadline, including a rumor that I reported from a source on MM that would have included several major pieces, including Gerrit Cole and Starling Marte. That rumor was refuted by Joe Frisaro on Wednesday, by a couple of high ranking officials.
For me to want to trade Stanton, I would want a couple of cost controlled players, a top prospect, and at least one or two more pieces that could help the team down the future. The Marlins currently have holes at second, shortstop, third, and catcher, so the team would likely seek prospects/young players that could play those positions, as well as more pitching prospects.
TT: Your lineup and rotation shouldn’t scare anyone in the majors but do you have anyone who has been on fire after the all-star break?
MM: While you are 100% accurate about the Marlins lineup not being able to scare opponents, I disagree about the Marlins rotation. With Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner leading the Marlins rotation, the rotation has been one of the more impressive rotations in baseball of late. Coming into Thursday’s ball game, the Marlins had the sixth best rotation in the NL. They have been even better as of late, finishing the month of July as the top rotation in the NL and the second best behind the Tigers in the MLB. In that sense, the entire Marlins rotation has been on fire since the All-Star Break.
As for hitters, I mentioned Yelich’s hot streak earlier, but Logan Morrison has also played well as of late. He missed the first two and a half months of the season after having off-season knee surgery, but has played better with more playing time, hitting behind Stanton. Morrison owns a .275/.358/.444 slash line for the season and shown off the strong plate discipline that he was touted for having as a top prospect a few years ago.
TT: What will be the Marlins tactics to cool off the Braves?
MM: Strong starting pitching. This has been the Marlins calling card in 2013 and as long as the pitching does well, it leaves the Marlins in the game. Although Stanton has struggled as of late, as long as you give him a chance in a close game, he can still do plenty of damage. I don’t like the Marlins chances in this series, but we all know stranger things have happened in baseball.