Sixto Sánchez made the fourth start of his major league career. Through his first three, he struck out 19 while surrendering one walk and 18 hits in 19 frames. The resultant 1.00 WHIP hints that Sánchez may be able to keep this up. On Tuesday he did.
In six innings of work against Atlanta, Sánchez struck out six and doubled his seasonal walk count, surrendering zero runs on three hits. He now has 12.5 K’s per BB, and on Tuesday put 60-of-89 pitches over the plate, a 67.4 strike rate.
The Miami Marlins managed to put up eight runs on Atlanta’s vaunted pitching staff, while surrendering zero. It’s the fifth shutout this year for the Marlins. They’ve only been blanked three times. For contrast’s sake, the Braves have authored three shutouts and been kept scoreless twice.
Spelling Sánchez for the Marlins, Miami later relied on James Hoyt and Richard Bleier to get out of a bases-loaded mess in the seventh inning. Nick Vincent pitched the eighth, striking out the side despite allowing a hit. Ryne Stanek came in to pitch the ninth in a non-save situation, and required only seven pitches to collect three outs and send the Braves home unhappy.
On the offensive side of the game, Matt Joyce got the Marlins out to an early lead with a second-inning solo home run. Jorge Alfaro went deep in the third inning to double Miami’s advantage. Garrett Cooper added a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 4-0, and the Marlins scored another four times to put the Braves down.
In a 60-game season, every game is more important. These games against the Atlanta Braves are that much more important, as the good teams are the very ones that the Marlins will end up playing in the postseason. Now at 19-18, the Marlins are projected by FanGraphs to go 10-13 the rest of the way to finish at 29-31. The same model predicts that Miami has the eighth-best chance of sneaking into the playoffs.
Now, I know that everyone is predicting the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to make a beeline to a World Series title, but the first round of the playoffs is a best-of-three series. As a likely eighth-seed, the Dodgers are a likely opponent if the Marlins make the cut. I don’t care who they have pitching or hitting, any team can beat any other team twice in three games.
This is becoming a more likely scenario, and Miami isn’t to be taken lightly, especially with the starting pitching the Marlins have shown in the past few weeks. Trevor Rogers, Sánchez, Pablo López, Sandy Alcantara and José Ureña/Nick Neidert/Jordan Yamamoto/anybody plucked off the street form a fearsome starting five. Take the best three out of them and you have a series that could go either way, even if your club is seeded with $100 million men at every position. It all starts with the starting pitching, and I’ll take the Marlins starters as currently set up against nearly anyone.
Tomorrow night, Miami will look to complete a series sweep of the Braves. With a win, they’ll also have won four games against Atlanta for the 2020 campaign. Not bad for a team that required 19 games to win four against the Braves just one year ago.
Thanks for reading. Look for the Marlins to do it all over again starting tomorrow night at 7:10 PM EDT. They’ll send López (3-3, 3.05 ERA) out against Tommy Milone (1-4, 5.30 ERA).