The Miami Marlins are now looking for their first series of the season to end in victory, as the team will look to take the final game of the three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds. The Fish came away with a strong 8-3 victory against the Reds the previous evening, and clearly the effort was led by the offense. The Marlins homered three times on their way to their first impressive offensive outing of the season.
Today, the Fish send Carlos Zambrano to the hill to face the Reds' Bronson Arroyo in a battle of two pitchers who disappointed greatly in 2011. Meanwhile, the respective offenses look to put on another explosion of runs on board in search for a series win.
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We all know about the struggles of Zambrano in 2011, what with his sudden increase in home runs allowed and his drop in strikeout rate. For Zambrano, it has always been about throwing it by guys and hoping the walks do not pile up too badly. For Arroyo, however, it is an entirely different gameplan, one predicated on throwing strikes and hoping for the best. Over the past four seasons, Arroyo's strikeout rates have been declining steadily, and last year he hit rock-bottom by combining a lack of strikeouts (a 12.6 percent rate, the second-worst of his career) with a sky-high home run rate (5.3 percent, allowed 46 home runs). Arroyo actually allowed more home runs than walks and was handed the worst season of his professional career as a result.
These two pitchers will start 2012 in an attempt to get things on track once more. For Zambrano, the projections look at least decent, as he projects to be an average or so pitcher. For Arroyo, whose quality has been slowly declining for years now, the future does not look as bright.
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The Marlins are not giving Logan Morrison a second day off, but they are resting two of their players on this day game following a night game. Gaby Sanchez is getting an evening off very early in the year; if you will recall last season, Sanchez received his first day off in the 102nd game of the year. We speculated in the offseason that perhaps a reason for Sanchez's second-half struggles was a lack of rest and eventual fatigue, so maybe the Marlins thought it better to give Sanchez a little more time off than usual. John Buck is also out of this afternoon's game, and in his place will be backup catcher Brett Hayes.
Greg Dobbs replaces Sanchez in the lineup. Earlier this week, I heard Orel Hershiser say what a luxury it was to have a "weapon" like Greg Dobbs off the bench. I laughed at the concept of a career.264/.308/.405 hitter being a "weapon" of any kind. Dobbs is a very serviceable bench player, and he can backup both infield corners, though he is a horrible third baseman. But considering him a weapon for his pinch-hitting is not my cup of tea.
Bold Prediction: Marlins def. Reds 5-2