With a 10-4 record in the month of July and a sweep of the Reds already under their belt, the Marlins attempt to lock up the series win against Jeremy Hellickson and the Phillies tonight. Currently in sole possession of the second NL Wild Card with a one game lead over the New York Mets, the Fish find themselves only 4.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East.
|Team||Starter||ERA||FIP||2016 ZIPS Projected ERA|
Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound for the his 19th start as a Marlin after he was acquired for $80 million in the offseason as a free agent. Although 2016 hasn't been exactly what Loria and Hill were expecting, at least his struggles have not been too much of a mystery as we pass the midway point of the season.
Neil Weinberg of Fangraphs wrote a great piece on Chen for anybody looking to know more about how Chen's consistency seems to have evaporated in the small sample size of this season. Weinberg cites Chen's sky high home run rate as the easiest entry point to Chen's struggles in 2016 and goes on to point out that he believes the struggles are a combination of normal variance and aging as well as him actually doing things differently.
The normal variance and aging seems to stem from his drop in fastball velocity as well as some loss in slider depth. The approach differences have to do with a variation from where Chen is now throwing the ball (low and outside in 2015... upper to middle parts of the plate in 2016).
With that being said, there is no reason a polished starter like Chen can't change for the better form here on out. He has shown flashes of being the envisioned #2 behind Fernandez this season, but has yet to revert to the consistency that we saw in his time with Baltimore.
Chen will oppose Jeremy Hellickson, who currently possesses one of the best single pitches in baseball, his changeup.
The chart courtesy of Brooks Baseball above shows the jump in whiff percentage that has helped Hellickson immensely in 2016, similar to his rookie campaign with the Rays that saw him take home the AL ROY award. In comparison to other pitches across baseball, Hellickson's change has actually generated more whiffs on a percentage basis this season than Noah Syndergaard's slider (31% to 29%).
Even with Hellickson's success through his changeup, the results have been relatively uninspiring. He currently sits on a 4.03 ERA with a 4.32 FIP, with peripherals that show this is just about what you have to expect from the 29 year old righty. In his one start versus Miami this season in mid-May, Hellickson went six innings, allowing two earned runs on six baserunners, resulting in a 4-2 win.
Hellickson has also been rumored in trades to the Marlins. Although the consensus is that he may sit behind Pineda and Cashner in terms of value, I wouldn't doubt it if some Marlin brass is in Philly tonight to scout the former ROY.
|MIAMI MARLINS||PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES|
|J.T. Realmuto - C||Peter Bourjos - CF|
|Martin Prado - 3B||Tyler Goeddel - LF|
|Christian Yelich - LF||Maikel Franco - 3B|
|Giancarlo Stanton - RF||Tommy Joseph - 1B|
|Marcell Ozuna - CF||Carlos Ruiz - C|
|Derek Dietrich - 2B||Jimmy Paredes - RF|
|Chris Johnson - 1B||Freddy Galvis - SS|
|Miguel Rojas - SS||Cesar Hernandez - 2B|
|Wei-Yin Chen - LHP||Jeremy Hellickson - RHP|
- Stanton and Ozuna both have one HR lifetime off Hellickson, with Ozuna's .444 average in 9 ABs looming large as a nice value Draft Kings or Fan Duel play.
- The Marlins are favored at -137, with the over/under run total for the game at 8.5, with both sides sitting at -110.
Prediction: Chen gets W, Marlins win 5-3