The Miami Marlins (26-24) were able to salvage a game and shake season long Braves monkey off of their back yesterday in a 7-3 victory. Unfortunately, they had to leave a man behind in Atlanta, as Derek Dietrich continued to be seen at a local hospital as a result of the nasty foul ball he took off the back of his head while sitting in the dugout in the late stages of last night's game. We at least got the always welcome news that "X-Rays were negative," and the observation may be precautionary. It goes without saying that he wont be playing today, so the Marlins depth continues to take hits.
Nevertheless, the season goes on and the Marlins now return home and must seek to build momentum against one of the better teams in the National League (if not all of baseball) in the Pittsburgh Pirates (28-21).
The Pirates had won five straight before slipping the last two games against the Texas Rangers in Arlington (including the unlucky draw of having to face a returning Yu Darvish). They come into this series with about a .500 record in May (13-12) after a 15-9 April.
It is hard to judge how good the Pirates are based upon their record alone. Do you give them credit for playing the perennially tough Cardinals and the ridiculous 2016 version of the Cubs, and if so, do you take points away for the heavy dose of Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers?
I suppose one could ignore their opponents altogether and take a look at the raw numbers, which are pretty damn good...on the offensive side. That 5.10 runs per game is third best in the NL Central (behind the Cards and Cubs), but it's good for third best in the NL and third best in all of baseball. And as you can see from the above table, they are proficient at getting on base and taking advantage of it. This is a dangerous, polished offense and a definitive challenge for the Marlins pitching staff.
If we flip things over to the pitching side for the Pirates, however, we start to see some problems. The combined fWAR of the starting rotation (and Ryan Vogelsong) is 0.3 (for comparison, Marlins starters are sitting at 3.7 fWAR). Aside from Gerrit Cole, Pirates starters are collectively running a not so great 1.57 HR/9 rate out there. Ray Searage is a great pitching coach, undoubtedly, but even he can't seem to turn this collection of motley pitchers into a functioning staff, at least in the early going.
Clearly, the offense is what keeps the Pirates ticking, so if the Marlins can somehow contain them, they in turn have a good chance at getting at any Pirates pitcher not named Gerrit Cole.
Hot Pirates Hitters (last seven days, minimum ten PA)
Jung Ho Kang - .429/.467/.714
Gregory Polanco - .385/.385/.692
Andrew McCutchen - .320/.370/.440
Cold Pirates Hitters (last seven days, minimum ten PA)
Sean Rodriguez - .200/.368/.467
Francisco Cervelli - .188/.278/.188
Jordy Mercer - .130/.130/.174
Probable Pitching Match-ups
- Monday May 30th 7:10 ET: Jeff Locke vs. Justin Nicolino
- Tuesday May 31st 7:00 ET: Gerrit Cole vs. José Fernàndez
- Wednesday June 1st 7:10 ET: Jonathon Niese vs. Adam Conley
- Thursday June 2nd 7:10 ET: Juan Nicasio vs. Wei-Yin Chen
- Former Marlins - Arquimedes Caminero ('13-'14)
- Former Pirates - Bryan Morris ('12-'14)
Bold Series Prediction: Marlins split series 2-2 with the Pirates.