The last time the Braves met the Marlins, Miami was still hanging very much in the division race, and were hoping to ride a strong, Jose Fernandez-less rotation down the stretch. A month and a half later, and things have not gone as well as Miami would have liked.
Their early season surge was generated in part by the pitching of Nathan Eovaldi, Tom Koehler, and Henderson Alvarez. In this case, two out of three is bad, as Koehler and Eovaldi have fallen off a bit from their strong starts. After a mediocre June, Eovaldi has surrendered 12 earned runs in just 19 innings in July, good for a 6.35 ERA. Koehler isn’t very far behind, as he has an ERA over 5 in his past 8 starts. Jacob Turner has found his way back into the rotation for the Marlins, as the carousel that is the bottom part of the Marlins rotation continues to turn. Veterans Kevin Slowey and Randy Wolf, Anthony DeSclafani, and lefties Andrew Heaney and Brad Hand have all taken a ride or three so far this year. Turner’s game will be one to watch, as it will be a battle of under performing lefties.
In the late innings, the Marlins have had a much better showing. Underrated closer Steve Cishek has been surrounded by quite a few solid (if lucky) performances, including one by former Brave and the last trace of the Dan Uggla trade, Mike Dunn. A.J Ramos has been remarkable at getting out of situations he causes, as evident by him giving up only 9 runs in 38.1 innings, despite a ridiculous 6.8 BB/9 rate. Same can be said of Dan Jennings, who sports a 1.23 ERA despite 31 hits in 29 innings.
On the other side of the ball, there is Giancarlo Stanton. And on the other side of his balls are typically the outfield bleachers. As per usual, Stanton is the far and away the Marlins best hitter, and one of only 5 Marlins hitters registering over a 1 fWAR. The other key to their early success were the two men to Stanton’s left: Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Unsurprisingly, these two take up the 2nd and 3rd spots on the WAR leaderboards for Miami. Both have continued to play some strong defense behind the struggling Marlins pitching, and both contribute in a unique way to their offensive output. Ozuna is the power, Yelich the speed.
Behind that is the rebirth of Casey McGehee, at the expense of his power of course. The former Brewer/Yankee/Pirate now has 120 hits, good for most in the NL, but only 24 of them are of the extra base variety. With a BABIP 70 points better than his career, its safe to say he has been passed the torch that Chris Johnson carried through 2013.
The Braves swept the Marlins last time around, but now that they’re not as good, who knows where this could end up for the Braves. They definitely have the better pitching, and the return of El Oso Blanco will help in that fight, but the Braves tend to do some nutty things around mediocre teams – especially inter division ones.
7:10 PM EST, Monday, July 21st
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Tags: Atlanta Braves