Game 35: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Miami Marlins, Game Thread and Ichthyomancy

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2 game series vs Pirates @ Marlins Park

Pittsburgh Pirates
@ Miami Marlins

Monday, May 14, 2012, 7:10 PM EDT
Marlins Park

Brad Lincoln vs Anibal Sanchez

Partly cloudy,rain. Winds blowing in from left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 80.

Complete Coverage >

Tue 05/15 7:10 PM EDT

The Miami Marlins will be finishing up a quick five-game home stand before heading out for an equally short road trip, and they will be doing so with a two-game miniseries against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs will come to town for two games after climbing back up to a respectable 16-18 record despite a hefty bit of hitting struggles. In that respect, they are very similar to the Marlins, except the Fish were expected to be good on offense, while the Pirates were expected not to be this bad.

Tale of the Tape

Marlins Stat (Rank) Pirates
.305 (17) wOBA .270 (30)
88 (21) wRC+ 69 (30)
3.38 (7) ERA 3.18 (2)
3.41 (5) FIP 3.70 (8)

You could not find two teams that have been doing their winning in a more similar fashion. Both the Marlins and Pirates have struggled at the plate, and both teams have been kept afloat by their pitching staff. The Fish are obviously carried by a starting staff that has been nothing short of excellent, posting the fifth-best ERA and fourth-best FIP in the league. However, the Pirates are right behind them with the seventh-best ERA and sixth-best FIP in baseball from their starters. The Pirates also have bullpen ERA of 2.61, which ranks fourth in the league. But their pen also has a 4.08 FIP, indicating that they may not be as good as they appear.

Of course, nothing can compare to the Pirates' offensive woes, so even though the Marlins did struggle in April before coming back to Earth in May, the Pirates just cannot be comprehended. Their collective offensive problems are enormous, as clearly stated by their offense currently being 31 percent below average to start the year.

Stadium: Marlins Park

Area Dimensions (ft)
Left Field 344
Left-Center 386
Center Field 416
Right-Center 392
Right Field 335

Nothing new here, Marlins Park is very big.

Pitching Matchup

Proj Win% Proj ERA FIP ERA Marlins Pirates ERA FIP Proj ERA Proj Win%
.548 3.56 2.24 2.01 Sanchez Lincoln 0.63 2.91 4.85 .404

There is not much more that can be said about the awesomeness of Anibal Sanchez so far this season. He has been completely unstoppable in 2012, and every time I say he is bound to regress, he puts on another strong performance. Those strikeouts will go down if he does not increase his swinging strikes, but even with some regression, Sanchez should still be an excellent pitcher in 2012. The Marlins are in for one tough decision on him in free agency at the end of this season.

The Pirates have been happy with the bullpen performance of Brad Lincoln thus far this season, but he was raised as a starter in the minors and will get his first opportunity to start in 2012. He did make17 total starts in the last two years, though he did not perform particularly well in those outings, as he posted a 5.54 ERA as a starter. He is not much of a strikeout artist and has mostly relied on control, which is why his work in the pen this season seems so surprising.

Lineup

Order Player Proj wOBA vs. RHP
1 Jose Reyes .350
2 Omar Infante .321
3 Hanley Ramirez .351
4 Logan Morrison .364
5 Giancarlo Stanton .373
6 Gaby Sanchez .330
7 Emilio Bonifacio .305
8 John Buck .300

The Marlins will once again trot out their top lineup, though not necessarily in its top configuration. Thus far, however, the lineup has had decent success, in part because Bonifacio has gotten a few solid games in at the seventh slot ahead of a suddenly hot John Buck. In May, Bonifacio has hit .277/.370/.383 and Buck has hit ,200/.394/.600. Those two hitters next to each other have produced a good amount of offense at the bottom of the lineup, and given the already mentioned advantage of having Bonifacio in front of lesser hitters like Buck to allow Bonifacio's speed to move him without hits, the Marlins should perhaps consider keeping the majority of this lineup intact.

Notes

- If you are looking for the latest Pirates news, you should obviously check out SB Nation's Bucs Dugout for the best in Pirates coverage. I've heard Charlie Wilmoth speak on FanGraphs, and he is yet another in the long line of reasonable, well-spoken lead bloggers in our network.

Bold Prediction: Marlins def. Pirates 5-2

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