Series Preview: Miami Marlins @ New York Mets
Although the Mets have had a trying second half thus far, it’s fair to say that the Miami Marlins are doing a little worse. After a lackluster first half, Miami decided to do their normal fire sale after spending some money, dealing away Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Gabby Sanchez, and Anibal Sanchez. New York did lose two of three in their trip to the new ballpark in Miami, but Jose Reyes and company will be coming back to Citi for the first time since they were swept at the end of April.
How they’re doing:
Terry Collins’ club is coming off a long, 11-game road trip, one in which they went 6-5. That is a far cry from getting back into the thick of a playoff race, but when the team is 53-56 and almost out of first place in the division and the Wild Card race by double-digit games, any victory is a big deal. David Wright continues to lead the Amazins in most offensive categories, but a recent slump has his batting average at .325, only a couple points ahead of Ruben Tejada. Daniel Murphy continues to hit (.304 BA), and Ronny Cedeno has gotten hot, inflating his average to .297 with 20 RBI, 12 of which have come in the last week and a half. The bullpen has been fortified with the return of Frank Francisco; the solid performances of Josh Edgin, Jon Rauch, and Manny Acosta(ERA down to 9.88) have helped the Mets perform better during their road trip.
On the other hand, the Marlins just continue to lose; they dropped their last two against the Nationals, and are now in the basement in the NL East with their 49-60 record. It is through no fault of Jose Reyes, who is on a 24-game hitting streak, raising his season averages to .288/.351/.432. Greg Dobbs is hitting .307 while playing part-time, and Carlos Lee has been enjoying his time in Miami (even though the front office tried to trade him before the deadline), hitting .305. It’s been tough for the Marlins to supply any power lately, as Ramirez (14 HR, 48 RBI) was traded, Logan Morrison (11 HR, 36 RBI) is hurt, and Giancarlo Stanton (19 HR, 50 RBI) has been on the shelf for a month. Ozzie Guillen hopes to have his slugger back some time this week. Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson lead the way for the pitching staff, as Steve Cishek (48 games, 1.77 ERA) is the most tested and reliable reliever now that Randy Choate was traded to LA with Hanley.
Probable pitching match-ups:
Wade LeBlanc (1-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. Jonathon Niese (8-5, 3.72 ERA)
LeBlanc is only making his second start for the Marlins, as he’s been used out of the bullpen in his 11 other appearances this season. He’s been primarly a starter throughout his career, most recently starting 16 games for Miami’s Triple-A team, going 5-5 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. In his first start against the Braves, LeBlanc went 4.1 innings, gave up 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 3. Niese has been an up-and-down pitcher at times during this season, but he’s been solid against Miami, posting a 1.38 ERa against them in 2012. Niese has been stranding runners at a 74% rate, which is the highest number he’s enjoyed since he was called up to the Mets, as he hopes to continue to finish this season over .500 for the first time.
Nathan Eovaldi (2-7, 4.66 ERA) vs. Chris Young (3-5, 4.22 ERA)
One of the pieces brought to Miami following the Ramirez trade, Eovaldi struggled in his first start as a Marlin, giving up 8 hits and 6 runs in 2 innings pitched. Eovaldi has induced more groundballs this season (1.55 GB/FB), but his 1.55 WHIP is higher than his career average, and with a 14.54 ERA with runners in scoring position, he should focus on keeping the base paths clear. Chris Young will be making his first start against the Marlins as a member of the Mets, coming off a solid seven-inning performance in San Francisco, earning him his third win of the year. He’s looking for his first win at home this year, despite having a home ERA (3.33) that’s about a run and a half lower than it is on the road (4.86).
Josh Johnson (7-7, 3.85 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (14-3, 2.82 ERA)
This is the prime time pitching match-up, pairing two aces in the afternoon finale. With his name being thrown around before the trade deadline, Johnson didn’t let it affect his performance, as he’s 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA in the second half. He also likes pitching against New York, as he’s 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA lifetime against the Mets. Dickey pitched well enough for the win against San Diego, as he held them hitless through five innings, but he ended up getting just his third loss this season. The knuckleballer will be looking for his league-leading 15th win of the year, in his 23rd start.
It pains me to say it, but Jose Reyes has been tearing it up lately. The prized off-season acquisition of the Marlins is currently enjoying a 24-game hitting streak, and is hitting .409 with 10 runs scored in his last 10 ballgames. Reyes has all but erased his slow start
(.220/.293/.341 in April) from everyone’s memory, and is looking to build on his .462/.481/.654 line in August. He’s also hoping that fans will receive him a little better than they did in April. We’ll see.
Coincidentally enough, Ruben Tejada has helped the healing process for Mets fans from the Jose Reyes situation go much quicker than anticipated. He had a great road trip, as he started his current 11-game hitting streak, a career high. He’s hitting .370 during that time and is trailing only David Wright for the club lead in batting average. He’s been incredibly consistent in 2012, with his .323 average against right-handers and .324 mark against lefties showing that it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound.
There’s an old adage that speed never slumps. While Emilio Bonifacio (5 SBs in last 10 games) proves that, it’s hard to be a consistent contributor to the offense when you’re only hitting .186 in the last week and a half. His .158/.200/.158 slash is making August his worst month so far, but he’s happy to see two righties take the mound for New York, as he’s hitting .283 against them this season, compared to .213 against southpaws.
Once Josh Thole came back from the concussion he suffered against the Phillies, he hasn’t been able to continue his early season production at the plate. In the last week and a half, he’s seen his average drop from .274 to .258, thanks to a .083/.154/.083 August line. Despite his struggles, Josh is looking forward to getting back to Citi (.303/.373/.343 at home).
If the Mets sweep the Fish at home again, they can get back to .500.. Let’s go Mets!