MIAMI, FL - MAY 12: Logan Morrison #5 of the Miami Marlins argues with the umpire after striking out during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on May 12, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Hero of the Game: No one that would qualify for Ichthyomancy, though a number of offensive contributors hit well
Goat of the Game: Ricky Nolasco (-0.358 WPA)
Play of the Game: David Wright hit a solo home run to right field off of Nolasco (-0.128 WPA)
The Miami Marlins had been riding high on a nice 9-1 run over the last ten games, but the Fish ran into the sawtoothed menace known as R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets today. Dickey did decently against the Marlins despite a lack of peripherals backing his numbers, but it was Ricky Nolasco's frightful struggles that killed the Fish in this game.Nolasco's Awful Start
Nothing good came of Nolasco in this start, as the wheels began falling off right at the onset of the game. He walked the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Wright to bring home a runner in the first inning. He did force the double play after that to garner two quick outs, but a subsequent walk still threatened to blow the game wide open right at its onset. Nolasco escaped the first without any more damage but went on to allow runs in every other inning he pitched other than a relatively smooth second inning.
Control was the problem in today's game, as can be noted in this location chart.
The major problem I see here is the distinct lack of low pitches. As was noted in the game thread, Nolasco was getting squeezed a tad low, but he primarily did not hang out in that location of the plate. Only 18 of his 95 total pitches were located below two feet from ground, and while they were above the traditional strike zone floor of 1.5 feet, only two were well-thrown enough to fool hitters into swings and misses.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of his day was spent at the belt or above against the Mets, and the chart points out, a lot of it went wide and outside to the assortment of lefty hitters he faced. Nolasco put up a 35:15 (2.3) ratio on balls to called strikes, which is quite uncharacteristic given his typical ratio well below two-to-one. The lack of control was clearly evident even without the chart, with the low point being when Nolasco beaned two consecutive hitters with the bases loaded to drive home a run. The most frustrating aspect of those hit-by-pitches were that they were to the number eight hitter and the pitcher in the lineup, meaning they were very easily avoidable mistakes. When you combine the clear lack of control with struggles in getting whiffs (only six in 95 pitches) and preventing hits (nine hits allowed with a .421 BABIP), it is easy to see why Nolasco's start was so disastrous.
Offense Clicked, But Not Enough
It was a shame to see Nolasco struggle so much and let the game get out of hand, because the Marlins were at least hitting well enough to deserve a competitive game. The team racked up 13 hits on the day, only three fewer than the Mets' 16 hits. They were not all dink-and-dump singles either, though the team only had three doubles in terms of extra-base hits. The Fish had a number of good games from players like Jose Reyes (four for five with four singles), Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, and Giancarlo Stanton (two for four each, with Sanchez and Stanton recording doubles).
Unfortunately, the Marlins ruined a couple of decent opportunities early in the game to score runs and keep it competitive before the lid blew. The Fish scored their first run on three consecutive hits by Morrison, Stanton, and Sanchez with no outs in the second inning, but Stanton made a baserunning error in attempting third base on a hit that arrived pretty quickly to the outfielder. Based on the win probabilities found in this calculator, Stanton would have to have been 70 percent certain he could have made it safely, and from the depth, it did not look like that was the case. Similarly, the Marlins blew a first-and-second, one out opportunity the following inning with consecutive outs and a man on second, one out opportunity in the inning after that; both situations had above average Leverage Indices (LI).