The Miami Marlins are looking to salvage a series win with a victory this afternoon over the Houston Astros after a debacle of a game last night. The Fish will try to pull off a series win despite last night's collapse, and they will have a little help in the form of the team's second best pitcher going up against a pitcher whose claim to fame is being the major part of the Roy Oswalt trade and flaming out afterwards. The Marlins will also have the advantage of sporting their best lineup after resting several of their players over the last few days.
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This afternoon's pitching matchup is akin to the Friday evening matchup in lopsidedness. The Marlins have a very clear edge in sending out Sanchez for his second start versus the Astros' Happ. Sanchez performed well in his first start, picking up the win against the Phillies by going six and a third innings and allowing only two runs with four strikeouts. Sanchez should be able to continue his success by facing an Astros lineup that is particularly weak.
The Astros will counter with former Rookie of the Year candidate J.A. Happ. It seems like eons since Chris Coghlan won the Rookie of the Year Award, but it turns out it has only been two seasons since that 2009 season. If you recall, J.A. Happ actually was the runner-up for that award, as his rookie campaign was comprised of him throwing 166 decent innings (4.33 FIP) disguised to look like good innings (2.93 ERA). Most prognosticators projected that his marginal tools would regress closer to his 2009 FIP, and sure enough, in 2010, he had a 3.40 ERA and an almost identical FIP to his 2009 year. He was traded in the middle of 2010 for Oswalt and the bottom fell out for him in 2011 with the Astros.
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In this graphic, you see the folly of the traditional managerial style of guys like Ozzie Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora. Omar Infante has started this season red-hot (.367/.387/.833, .512 wOBA), but he is still on the lower end of the team's hitters in terms of projections; ZiPS projects Infante to hit .286/.328/.400 (.316 wOBA) the rest of the season despite the hot start. On the other hand, Logan Morrison (ZiPS-projected .259/.358/.444, .347 wOBA) and Gaby Sanchez (.269/.346/.430, .339 wOBA) are both projected to be better hitters going forward than Infante, so why is Infante batting ahead of both? Because despite the average hot streak having no predictive value of future performance beyond a normal set of PA, managers still manage their lineup around hot or cold hitters, especially outside of the top four lineup spots.
This seems especially egregious considering that Sanchez, who is a career .397 wOBA hitter versus lefties, is probably one of the team's best hitters versus left-handers. Despite this, the managerial staff has decided that a one-week hot streak is more predictive than a career's worth of numbers and have turned to Infante for the job. This will not ultimately make much of a difference in the long run, but it again speaks to the sometimes inefficient traditional managerial style that so permeates baseball.
Bold Prediction: Marlins def. Astros 5-2