Series Preview: Miami Marlins @ New York Mets

After scoring 19 runs in their first two games of the season, the Mets were shut down by the San Diego Padres in the series finale, losing a pitcher’s duel, 2-1. The Amazins lick their wounds quickly as they welcome the Miami Marlins to Citi Field for the first time in 2013, as the two teams engage in what will be many divisional tilts on the schedule. Miami is already in the basement three games into the season, and they’re certainly happy to leave D.C., as the Nationals controlled the pace with a season-opening three-game sweep.

Alex Sanabia (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Sanabia made the rotation out of spring training this season, and once he takes the mound tonight, it will be the first time he’s thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2011. He threw 72.1 innings (12 starts) in 2010, but didn’t see nearly as much action the next season, throwing only 11 innings in three appearances (two starts). The right-hander pitches to contact, as he’s compiled a career 5.93 K/9IP between his time in both the majors and minors, while consistently owning a GO/FO ratio of less than one.

Apr 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (49) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a MLB opening day game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hefner logged 25.1 spring training innings while in PSL, and has a spot in the rotation for at least the immediate future given the news regarding Johan Santana‘s health. In speaking with Jeremy before he reported to camp, he said one of his goals this season was to be more consistent. That will start with him trying to reverse his curse at Citi Field; in 14 appearances last season (7 starts), Hefner posted a 2-4 record, 6.22 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and .306 opponent batting average in 46.1 innings pitched in front of the home crowd.

Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 3.00) vs. Jonathon Niese (1-0, 2.70)

Nolasco didn’t pitch badly in his season debut (6 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K), but unfortunately, two of the hits gave up ended up being Bryce Harper home runs, and he was opposing Stephen Strasburg on the hill. So, that pretty sums up why he lost Miami’s season opener. He’ll look to get back on track tonight against the Mets, and is hoping to mirror his strong four-start performance from last April, where he went 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He struggled through most of the 2012 season, and opposing batters ended up hitting .285 against him in 191 innings pitched.

Niese is coming off one of the most exciting starts of his career; he looked dominant in a 6.2 inning performance while pitching on Opening Day for the first time against San Diego. In 2012, Niese went 4-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 11 starts during the day; he continued that trend on Monday, and he’ll get yet another opportunity to pitch without the lights on tomorrow. He’s also hoping to mirror his April 2012 performance (2.81 ERA, 0.97 WHIP).

Jose Fernandez (0-0, 0.00) vs. Aaron Laffey (0-0, 0.00)

Despite only throwing two innings in spring training this year, Fernandez has won the last rotation spot for new manager Mike Redmund in Miami, and will be making his big league debut on Sunday in Flushing. Although he spent all of 2012 in Single-A, he absolutely dominated the opposition, putting together a 14-1 record with a 1.75 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 158 strikeouts in 134 IP. Opposing hitters had an awful time trying to do their job against him, only hitting .191 against him on the season.

Laffey will be getting called up from Triple-A to take the place of injured Shaun Marcum in the rotation while he’s on the mend. We’re not entirely sure how long it’ll be, but it looks like Laffey will be getting more than one start in his place (as long as he’s productive). He was used as both a starter and reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, but fared much better out of the bullpen ( 3.07 ERA as reliever vs. 4.81 ERA as starter). However, Laffey earned the confidence of Terry Collins to be the first pitcher they call up to make a spot start if someone is hurt is because of the solid camp he had in PSL. The southpaw threw 12 innings and put together a 3.00 ERA, while also racking up 13 strikeouts.

If you’re wondering whether or not last year’s expensive Marlins team did well against the Mets, here’s your answer. In 18 games, New York won the season series pretty easily, taking 12 of the 18. That includes a convincing 7-2 mark at home, while holding their own with a 5-4 record at the new stadium. Although Miami’s roster looks nothing like it did the year prior, it will sill be exciting to see Fernandez make his MLB debut, and it’ll always be exciting (and frightening) to watch Giancarlo Stanton hit.

This should be an interesting series between two teams many aren’t expecting much from. So, they both have a lot to prove…Let’s go Mets!

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Topics: Jeremy Hefner, Jonathon Niese, Miami Marlins, New York Mets

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