The Miami Marlins suffered one of their worst defeats of the season yesterday afternoon, on national television no less (now 0-4 on nationally televised games). But today the Fish have a chance to salvage and indeed win the series against the division rival New York Mets in the rubber match of their three-game series. To attempt the series win, the Marlins will send out one of the team's quartet of hot starters in revelation Carlos Zambrano, while the Mets will counter with the team's third-best starter, Jon Niese.
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If you had not heard yet, Carlos Zambrano may be a new man in 2012. He has added a splitter and begun using his sinker / two-seam fastball more often, and as a result he is inducing more ground balls and, because of his placement within the strike zone, also getting more strikeouts as a result. The ZiPS projection is beginning to catch up to Zambrano's new ways, having dropped his ERA projection down to 4.18, which is around where this site had it before the season began. It is difficult to deny that, even when accounting for his fluky .234 BABIP, he is still pitching way beyond the Marlins' expectations. The team is extremely happy to be throwing him out on the mound today against the Mets.
The Mets counter with Niese, whom we saw earlier in the season as well. Last we saw him, he gave up two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks in seven innings in New York against the Fish, but that was during the team-wide slump that is still, to a degree, continuing. The team has hit a little better as a group, with certain players breaking out while others being a little slower to recover, but the offense has slightly improved from that game, so we will see whether they can continue their winning ways against Niese.
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Bold Prediction: Marlins def. Mets 5-3