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Series Preview #23: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Florida Marlins

The Marlins are on pace to lose 113 games.


This certainly was a frustrating weekend of baseball. Getting swept is one thing, but getting swept at Petco is a different animal entirely. It can't happen without a bunch of annoying Padre singles, it can't happen without watching your team squander opportunity after opportunity against mediocre pitching, and it can't happen without large stretches of nobody scoring. It isn't interesting, and it isn't fun.

But the Marlins are on pace to lose 113 games.

This has been a frustrating 10 days. Two wins in their last eight games. Goldschmidt's slump just serves as an unneeded reminder of how little depth is behind him in the lineup. David Hernandez looks broken, for no other reason than because the God of Relievers is a giant supernatural toddler who periodically gets bored with his creations and breaks them just so he can buy new ones.

The NL West lead has shrunk to a game. This team has spent a lot of time looking like they might collapse, only to turn around and win five of six, but this is probably the closest they've come to actual collapse.

But the Marlins are on pace to lose 113 games.

Perspective matters here. The Marlins' collapse started in July 2012, when they traded long-tenured guys like Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez for prospects. That was a sign that Miami wasn't angling to win in 2013. The moves they made this offseason only confirmed that.

There was never much hope for this year, but I doubt anyone knew just how disastrously bad the 2013 team would be. They've already been outscored by more than 100 runs. Their offense is the worst in baseball by any metric you want to look at. If we assume, as the mainstream media already has, that Giancarlo Stanton doesn't want to be there for the rebuilding, then there aren't any great young players riding in to save the day.

So no, no one wants to hear us complain that our talented, division-leading team has hit a rough patch.

What the Stats Say (Courtesy of Fangraphs):

Hitting (wRC+): 91 69 Arizona
Pitching (ERA-/FIP-):
94/95 108/105
Fielding (UZR):
12.6 1.7


The good news: the Marlins have slightly above-average range defensively. Assuming it isn't just small-sample size noise, good for them!

The bad news: That would be the lowest wRC+ score from an entire team in 83 years. Hell, even if we assume that the team improves a bit with Stanton back and healthy, there's still only one team (LOL 2004 D-Backs) that even comes close in the last 30 years. This is genuinely amazing.

Their pitching is generally mediocre rather than record-settlingly awful, but this sort of production does give you an idea of how the Marlins are on pace to exceed 110 losses.

Starting Lineups

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, RF
2. Willie Bloomquist, 2B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. Miguel Montero, C
5. Martin Prado, 3B
6. Cody Ross, LF
7. A.J. Pollock, CF
8. Didi Gregorius, SS

Miami Marlins

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Ed Lucas, 3B
3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
4. Marcell Ozuna, CF
5. Derek Dietrich, 2B
6. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
7. Greg Dobbs, 1B
8. Rob Brantly, C

As part of a weird, tasteless experiment, someone in a lab somewhere thought it would be funny to strap Paul Goldschmidt's arms to Justin Upton's body. The creature that was created punched his way out of the lab and is now performing in front of nameless dozens in Miami under the assumed name of Giancarlo Stanton. And by "performing," I mean doing things like this whenever someone's dumb enough to throw the ball over the plate to him.

I say dumb enough because there's really nothing resembling lineup support here. Ozuna started off incredibly well for a rookie with 47 PAs above Single-A, but he's been mired in a slump of late, hitting just .162 in his past eight games. He's still a nice find, and he might the closest thing the closest thing the Marlins have to a building block in the lineup going forward, but it looks like the league has figured him out for the time being. Didi Gregorius shakes his head sadly.

Logan Morrison (remember him?) has fallen off the face of the earth a bit, but he made his season debut on June 9th, though he was back out of the lineup by June 12th with back soreness. I don't know how much we'll see of him in the series.

Hechavarria has a solid minor-league pedigree, and should improve going forward, but it's been rough sailing so far. He's hitting .204/.250/.304 so far, which is due in part to an extremely low BABIP. But he isn't helping his cause by hitting Line Drives just 17% percent of the time, either. Add in some shaky defense (at least according to UZR) and Hechavarria has -1.0 fWAR so far this year.

Starting Pitching

Monday: Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28) vs. Jacob Turner (1-0, 1.80)

Insightful Commentary: I realize that this isn't entirely Corbin's doing, but it bears repeating: The Diamondbacks are 24-32 in games not started by Patrick Corbin this year. If Corbin doesn't get the job out of Spring Training, and, say, Randall Delgado is just okay rather than superlative, this team is probably in fourth place in the NL West right now. So yeah, I think he should go to the All-Star Game.

Jacob Turner is part of the haul from the Anibal Sanchez trade last July. He's a right-hander, with a fastball that very occasionally hits the mid-90s but tends to settle around 92 MPH. But while he was uneven in his first season of extended major-league play in 2012, he's started off well in 2013 in his first three starts after returning from injury.

Tuesday: Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, N/A) vs. I don't know, like Josh Collmenter or Randall Delgado or something

Insightful Commentary: At the time, sending Skaggs back to Reno for a bit made quite a bit of sense, considering he wouldn't get to pitch for nine days. But that was before Ian Kennedy went and made a mess of things, and now this start probably goes to Collmenter. Assuming it's Josh, he's pitched well this year, with a 2.86 ERA to go with a 2.92 FIP.

Like Turner, Eovaldi came over in the midseason fire sale last year. Also like Turner, he was uneven in the latter half of 2012 before getting injured. Even though this is his first start, that still means that he's contributing more than Hanley Ramirez, the guy he was traded for. Let's all laugh at LA for a minute. But as for Eovaldi, he's a better power pitcher than I remember, with a mid-nineties fastball and a hard slider. What he doesn't have is much in the way of off-speed offerings, so we'll see if the D-Backs can exploit his one-dimensionality.

Wednesday: Trevor Cahill (3-8, 3.96) vs. TBA

Insightful Commentary: Cahill had one of those games where he just had goofy movement his last time out in San Diego. From what I can tell, he has about five of these starts every year, where even he has no idea where the ball will go. They aren't necessarily his best starts, because of things like his two-RBI single, which came on a 3-2 count where he left a sinker up because he couldn't control it well enough to put it at the bottom of the zone, but they're almost certainly his most entertaining.

I don't know who we're going to see here, but it'll be five days after Jose Fernandez's last start, which means he's as good of a bet as anyone. And that's cool because, to reiterate from last time, Fernandez has an ERA of 3.11 despite the fact that he's not yet old enough to drink.

Three Pressing Questions:

So, who are the Marlins looking to trade at the deadline? I don't know, but I'd be surprised if Ricky Nolasco is still around after the deadline, considering that he's 30, still pretty solid, and a free agent at the end of the season. Otherwise, expect to see them move a couple bullpen arms, and maybe quasi-decent vets like Greg Dobbs.

Sorry, I'll be more direct: Is Giancarlo Stanton changing teams, and are the Diamondbacks going to be that team? Probably not, and almost certainly not, in that order. Stanton is valuable enough that they aren't going to rush into a trade. Arbitration is going to be expensive, but he won't be a free agent until 2017, and who can say where the Marlins will be at that point. The Rangers and Cardinals are going to try, but I'd be surprised if it happens before offseason at the earliest.

As for the Diamondbacks, they have room for him in the sense that every team could use an awesome outfielder. But it would take Bradley or Skaggs along with some other guys who we'd miss, and it would possibly take Bradley and Skaggs. If you balked at that, this probably isn't the trade for you.

Is "DBacks Swing" the corniest theme song in Major League Baseball? Absolutely not, because the Marlins made sure of it with this gem. I like to imagine that this song took 15 minutes to write, 13 of which were spent in Jeffrey Loria's office typing "baseball words" into Hot Bot and reading the results.

Marlins Blog: Fish Stripes

(All numbers from Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference unless otherwise indicated.)