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Miami Marlins Struggling With Runs On the Road

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The Miami Marlins have scored just six runs in five games on this road trip against the Washington nationals and New York Mets. The team has struggled to compile any offense over the last four games, and this has not been an isolated occurrence. Outside of the most recent six-game home stand, of which five of the games resulted in Marlins victories, the Fish have struggled to secure offense for their pitching staff. Coincidentally, many of these games have occurred on the road, leading to some discussion yesterday on the Marlins telecast about whether the Marlins would be able to dig themselves out of an early season hole if they continue to perform this way on the road.

I thought about how much the Marlins were actually struggling given the pitchers they have seen on the road so far. In their 11 road games thus far, they have had the unenviable task of facing guys like Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Stephen Strasburg, so it is not as if they were facing chumps on the mound. It makes me wonder how much the team has underachieved their scoring potential against these starters. I decided to examine this by seeing how many innings pitched and runs allowed each starting pitcher has gotten against the Marlins on the road thus far. I then compared this to their ZiPS-projected ERA (divided by 0.92 to put it into runs allowed scale) to compare how many runs they should be expected allow given their innings pitched.

Here are the results:

Pitcher (Team) IP ZiPS Proj ERA Proj Runs Actual Runs
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 7 3.63 3.1 0
Mat Latos (CIN) 4 2/3 3.38 1.9 4
Bronson Arroyo (CIN) 6 1/3 4.84 3.4 5
Cole Hamels (PHI) 5 1/3 3.30 2.5 4
Roy Halladay (PHI) 7 2.83 2.4 0
Joe Blanton (PHI) 7 4.43 3.7 1
Ross Detwiler (WAS) 6 4.50 3.3 0
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) 6 2.72 2.0 0
Johan Santana (NYN) 6 2/3 3.67 3.0 1
R.A. Dickey (NYN) 7 4.02 3.4 1
Jon Niese (NYN) 7 4.21 3.5 2
Total 70 3.80 32.2 18

Presuming that the Marlins were at least a league average team offensively (and by the projections before the season, they should have been decently above average), the team would have scored abut 32 runs in 70 innings against the starters they faced. The club instead managed just 18 runs, a loss of 14 runs. Nowadays, 14 runs accounts for maybe 1.5 wins lost on offense in their first 10 road games compared to the average team.

When we nail down the specifics for the different pitchers we faced, we see that the Fish only outperformed against Arroyo, Hamels, and Latos. Coincidentally, those three games occurred back-to-back-to-back, meaning that the Fish streaked offensively for a little bit on the road before suffering a slew of terrible games against pitchers both good and bad. Yes, they did face Halladay and Strasburg, but the team also struggled against the likes of Joe Blanton and Ross Detwiler, pitchers against whom the Marlins should have hit well.

Can they be expected to continue this trend? Almost undoubtedly not. While Omar Infante has clearly overachieved at the plate, much of the rest of the roster has struggled. Of the eight Marlins starters, only Infante and Emilio Bonifacio are outperforming their ZiPS projections, while the remaining hitters and undershooting their projections by amounts ranging from mildly (Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison) to drastically (Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton). It has been difficult to watch, but it still is just 18 games, or 11 percent of the regular season. No Marlin has more than 80 PA to their name. It is still too early for wallowing in dejection or panic for Marlins fans. The offense has been ugly now, but according to our best-guess knowledge from before the season, things should be on the up and up. This lineup is much better than their terrible road performance has shown thus far,