In the quest to get back to October in 2014, it’s important to take a look at where the Braves stack up against the teams they will see the most next season. The Marlins, Mets, Nationals, and Phillies will all have a bit of a different look in the upcoming season, and it’s important to take a look at the improvements and regressions within the division. We will start with the Miami Marlins who went 62-100 last year and went through yet another rebuilding year. We will take a look at each aspect of the team and diagnose where the Braves hold advantages and where the Marlins will gain ground on Atlanta.
The Marlins will definitely have a new look when they step to the plate this season. They made some additions in the offseason that did make some noise and will undoubtedly have an improved lineup this season. Names like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal, and Casey McGehee will provide the Marlins with some veteran pop to pair with young guns such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria, and of course Giancarlo Stanton. Simply put, the Marlins will now look to Stanton to become the All-Star they expect him to be with the names to protect him and force opposing pitchers to pitch to the man who has been known to supply some moonshots throughout a 162 game schedule. However, these names they brought in with the exception of Salty are a bit questionable. Garrett Jones has proven nothing more than to be an occasional home run hitter who can provide some pop to a lineup. When the talent level increased in Pittsburgh, it seemed as if he found himself as a pinch hitter more often than not. Furcal didn’t play a single game last year and will more than likely serve as a backup utility infielder with the team believing in Hechavarria and McGehee much like Furcal, didn’t play a game in the major leagues either last season. So the jury is still out on the new look offense in Miami. There is no denying the fact that Saltalamacchia will force teams to pitch to Stanton a bit more, but it remains to be seen if the people behind these two bashers will be able to finish the job and make this offense potent. Overall, the Braves staff will look forward to pitching against this team and could enjoy the same level of success as they did last season against the Marlins.
Projected Marlins Batting Order:
- Hechavarria, SS
- Ozuna, CF
- Stanton, RF
- Saltalamacchia, C
- Jones, 1B
- McGehee, 3B
- Yelich, LF
- Solano, 2B
- Pitcher Spot
As it seems like we say every year, the Marlins pitching staff will be full of potential. One of the youngest pitching staffs in the league, will once again get younger this season as their projected opening day starter will be just 21 years of age, Jose Fernandez. Fernandez, the reigning NL rookie of the year appears to be a sure fire ace of the future for Miami, but it remains to be seen how the rest of the young staff will stack up behind him. The Marlins will back up Fernandez with 23 year old Henderson Alvarez who notched a no-hitter last season, 23 year old Nathan Eolvaldi and 22 year old Jacob Turner with the final rotation spot being wide open for the taking. As much talent as there is for the Marlins, I still expect them to experience some serious growing pains throughout the year and Miami fans can anticipate some really inconsistent pitching from the staff as a whole as the bullpen looks to be quite young as well.
The Marlins will more than likely turn to Steve Cishek to once again be the stopper at the end of the game. The odd looking right hander had 34 saves and a 2.33 ERA last season and will look to build on that performance to anchor the bullpen once again. He should be set up by former Brave Mike Dunn, and a whole bunch of unprovens after that such as Brad Hand, Dan Jennings, among others.
There will be nights where Freddie, Jason, and company are kept very quiet by this Marlins pitching staff but with that being said the offense could be in line for some very big nights against this Marlins staff.
Stats of Note:
- Giancarlo Stanton hit just .185 against Braves pitching last season which included 17 strikeouts in just 54 at bats.
- In 2 starts vs. Atlanta, Jose Fernandez posted a 1-1 record and a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched
- In 19.1 innings pitched against the Marlins last season, Kris Medlen went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA.
- Freddie Freeman posted a .379 average with 3 homers and 11 knocked in vs. the Marlins last season
- In the 2 seasons that Marlins Park has been open, the Braves have posted a 15-4 record at the ballpark
The Braves went 13-6 last year against Miami, and continued their overall dominance of the Marlins throughout the last few years. Although the Braves abused the Marlins a bit last season there were some fireworks that you could see carry over to this year that could lead the rivalry to heating up this season. Those fireworks paired with an improved Marlins roster could lead to some fun when the two teams meet in 2014.
P.S. Let’s hope the Braves keep Jose Fernandez in the park this year.