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Series Preview #13: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Miami Marlins

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After a series against the Phillies which was a bigger mess than me trying to eat a cheesesteak, the D-Backs head to Miami to face a struggling Marlins team which just fired their manager.

Hopefully we won't see too much of this
Hopefully we won't see too much of this
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks (15-21) @ Miami Marlins (16-22)

What a weekend. Bad starting pitching, bad relievers, and spotty offense all highlighted a series where Arizona was swept by a team widely regarded as one of the worst in baseball. This sweep put them on a 4 game losing streak. They have lost back to back series now, and 7 of the last 10 games. They are currently 8.5 GB of the Dodgers, sitting in 4th place. Over the last 7 days, their pitching has completely killed them, with an MLB-worst 6.58 ERA. You're not going to win games when your pitching is that atrocious.

The Marlins have not done much better lately either, on a 3 game losing streak. Their poor performance this year and last year led to the firing of manager Mike Redmond after Sunday's game (I would like to put in my vote for Marlins minor league coordinator John Pierson to take over the job, as he is my uncle. ). It will be interesting to see how team morale is after the firing. In their last series against the Braves, they only managed to score 6 runs, and allowed 16. They went 8 2/3 innings Sunday without getting a hit, which generally does not win games. For a team 6 games under .500, their run differential has been much better than you would expect, currently at -8.

Good News

  • The offense has been getting a lot of hits. Over the last 2 weeks, they D-Backs are batting .300 as a team. In fact, since May 3 only 2 regular starters-Nick Ahmed (.225) and Mark Trumbo (.257)-have batted below .275.
  • The middle and bottom of the order are heating up. Aaron Hill, Chris Owings, and Tuffy Goesewich, all of whom got off to rough starts, have all hit above .350 in last two weeks. The trio has combined for 19 RBIs and 14 extra base hits over that time frame.
  • The Marlins lack power. They have 24 homers on the year, which puts them 28th in the majors. If you take out Giancarlo Stanton's 11 home runs, the rest of the team would only have 13.
Bad News

  • The D-Backs pitching has been laughable as of late. Over the course of the past week, they have a 6.58 ERA, which is by far the worst in the major leagues.
  • The Marlins have Dee Gordon. He is batting .425 on the season, and has already accumulated 12 steals on the year. I do not understand how it is possible to get hits at this rate, but he is doing it. I wish the D-Backs good luck in trying to find a way to get this guy out.
  • Speaking of guys who are tough to get out, the Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton, who is apparently a pretty big deal. He has 11 home runs on the year, and 4 in the last 7 days. We may will see that contraption out in left center go off a couple times during this series when he us up to bat. Hooray.

Injury Report

The Marlins have a pair of starting pitchers, Mat Latos and Jarred Cosart, who left their last starts with injury. For Cosart, it was tightness in his right hamstring which took him out early. He threw a pain-free bullpen session on May 16, and should be ready to start on Tuesday. Latos left his last start with a left shin contusion. X-rays came back negative, and as of Sunday he is still scheduled to start on Thursday. A more detailed report can be found here

Nothing new here for the Dbacks. It doesn't appear any currently injured players will be returning for this series, and nobody has been injured recently. Jake Lamb is supposed to be beginning baseball activities this week, but isn't expected back until late May. A more detailed report can be found here.

Bullpen Status

I doubt we will see Randall Delgado pitch at least the first two games of this series, after he threw 56 pitches in relief Sunday. They would probably like to avoid using Reed in the first game too, after he threw 34 pitches Saturday in two scoreless innings.

Brad Hand will probably rest on Monday after throwing 31 pitches in Sunday's loss to the Braves.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Rubby de la Rosa RHP (4-2, 4.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) vs Dan Haren RHP (4-2, 3.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

It feels like Rubby should have an ERA better than 4.50, as he has been one of our better pitchers. His last start was one against the Nationals where he lasted 7 innings and allowed 4 runs in a blowout victory. He should be able to avoid home runs, something which has hurt him dearly this year, since he is pitching in the very large Marlins Park.

Haren has been very consistent in his first season with the Marlins, going 6+ innings in 5 out of 7 starts this year. His last outing was a rough one, where he only went 4 1/3 innings and allowed 6 runs before being pulled. Facing him in Miami like we are is not good news, as he has a 1.59 ERA in 3 starts this year at Marlins Park. Pitching in Miami has definitely helped him this year, as he has had a career high 47% fly ball rate this year. In another stadium, this could get him into some trouble.

Game 2: Jeremy Hellickson RHP (1-3, 5.92 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) vs Jarred Cosart RHP (1-3, 4.08 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)

Clearly, pointing out the negatives with Jeremy has not worked, so instead of bagging on him I will focus on the positive. His FIP is well below his ERA at 4.65, so we should be seeing some kind of regression soon. Even the smallest amount will help. He has pitched in Miami once in his career, where he pitched decently allowing 1 run in 4.1 innings. This start did come 3 years ago though, so don't invest too much in this performance.

Cosart does not go deep into games, and has only gotten through more than 5.1 innings three times. He primarily throws a fastball and sinker, both hovering around 93, and a curve which he has thrown around 15% of the time this year. He will also mix in a rare change-up. Like Haren, he is much better at home than on the road where he has had a 1.89 ERA this year.

Game 3: Chase Anderson RHP (0-1, 2.81 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs David Phelps RHP (2-0, 2.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

Chase Anderson has quietly been the best and most consistent starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks this season. He has held the opposition to one run or less in 4 of his 7 starts, and still has not picked up a W on the year. The Diamondbacks offense and bullpen need to give him some support Wednesday.

Did you know that there is actually a more famous David Phelps who sings Christian music? I discovered this when I googled David Phelps and just clicked on the first link, assuming it would be for B-Ref. Very interesting stuff. Anyways, Phelps joined the rotation on April 17, and has been fantastic. In his last 5 starts, he has gone at least six innings in each one and allowed 2 or less runs every time.

Game 4: Archie Bradley RHP (2-1, 3.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs Mat Latos RHP (1-4, 5.54 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)

After a great first couple starts to begin his career, Archie got lit up in his last start against the Phillies. He only went 2 innings and allowed 4 runs, and was giving up hard contact all throughout the night. If he continues to just throw that fastball and curve 98% of the time, teams will catch on and just sit on his fastball. He needs to work on his change-up and be able to consistently throw it for strikes.

Mat Latos' ERA looks a lot worse than he actually is due to two starts against the Braves where he went a combined 3.2 innings and allowed 12 runs. Ouch. Other than those 2 outings though, he's been pretty good, allowing 2 runs or less in 5 starts.

X-Factors

The D-Backs' X-factor for the next 4 games is obviously their pitching staff. In 7 of their last 9 games, the Diamondbacks have allowed 6 or more runs. This is completely unacceptable, and you just aren't going to win games when you're pitching like this. The offense has been decent so if the pitchers can do their part, the D-backs may be able to go on a run.

I'm going to do something a little different for the Marlins' X-factor, and say that it is whoever bats 4th (generally Marcell Ozuna). Why, you may ask? Because this is the spot behind Giancarlo Stanton. According to baseball reference's play index, the Marlins' 4 spot has only batted .263 this year, and has just 11 extra base hits. If there is a base open, I'd be walking Stanton every time to get to that 4 hole. Unless they can provide a reason to fear that spot, I see no reason to pitch to Stanton.

Series Prediction

I see the D-backs splitting this series with Miami, to end up 2-5 on this disappointing road trip against the two worst teams in the NL East.