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Series Preview # 10 : Diamondbacks vs Marlins

The Diamondbacks will likely win this series.

Max Meyer pitched in spring training.
Max Meyer pitched in spring training.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Marlins are a streaky team.

This season they have a 7 game winning streak and a 6 game losing streak. In May they fell below mount 500. Nevertheless the Marlins are in second place in their Division behind the Mets.

“At the end of the day, at the end of the night, when you get that win, there’s nothing like it. It’s been a good day. Whatever bad happened previously, most of it just gets wiped away by that one thing.” — Kim Ng, GM of Marlins

A week ago, the Diamondbacks swept the Marlins.

Marlins’ starters were the story of that series. The Diamondbacks scored an impressive 14 runs in 13 innings against the Marlins’ starters, and only 4 runs in 14 innings against their relievers.

“Marlins starting pitchers in this series—Hernandez, Pablo López and Trevor Rogers—combined to allow 14 runs (13 of them earned) in 13 innings.” — Noah Berger of SB Nation

The Diamondbacks know how to beat the Marlins. Sweeping the Marlins (knowing their talent and focus) says something about the Diamondbacks. While Torey Lovullo might say the sweep was taking care of each day, perhaps it reflects daily playing baseball with precision.

“There’s precision that’s needed for everyday, mundane, routine work and that helps you become a better ballplayer.” — Kim Ng, GM for Marlins

The Marlins are better than last season.

Their starting pitchers are young. This season their oldest is Elieser Hernandez, who turned 27 on 3 May. Because they are young, they have potential to improve each season.

The Marlins traded for Jacob Stallings, a Gold-Glove catcher who had a reputation for leading and knowing how to handle pitchers. He will likely speed the development of the Marlins’ young pitchers.

“We just thought …with all the young pitchers coming to the big leagues and those about to come to the big leagues, it was really important to get somebody behind the plate who knew how to handle a staff. Obviously, that is part of his [Stallings’] reputation. And that was what we felt we needed. We’ve also heard he’s very good leader. That factored into it.” — Kim Ng, GM of the Marlins

They focused on power batting. They improved the team ranking in homers (28th in 2021 vs 18-19th through 5 May) and ranking in RBIs (30th in 2021 vs 19th through 5 May).

The Marlins traded for Joey Wendle. They signed free agents Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler. Although their clear intention was to add power batters, so far this season Garcia and Soler have struggled.

“That’s [Soler’s power batting] something we really, really chased after.” — Kim Ng, GM of Marlins

Jack Sommers was correct when he wrote that their bench is amazing. Although still amazing, each of their OPS+ stats cooled off slightly in the last week.

“However their bench has been amazing, getting excellent production from Garrett Cooper, (131) Brian Anderson, (143) John Berti (216), and Bryan De la Cruz (189).” — Jack Sommers

Two top-100 Marlins’ prospects reflect the future Marlins.

JJ Bleday was picked #4 in the first round of 2019, and Max Meyer was picked #3 in the first round of 2020. They play for the AAA Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Neither player is on the 40-man roster.

Max Meyer, right-handed pitcher. In 2020, MLB pipeline ranked him as the 6th best prospect in baseball. In 2021 he was promoted to AAA, where he was a Baseball America Minor League All Star. In 2022, his 1.72 ERA and 39/9 SO/BB ratio were impressive.

“Everybody knows about his plus-plus slider and the fastball, but the changeup you didn’t see much in college because he didn’t really need it. He started using that and showing that here, and it’s got a chance to be a plus pitch as well.” — Geoffrey DeGroot, November 2020

“Where is Max Meyer?” — Noah Berger of SB Nation, 4 May 2022.

JJ Bleday, outfielder. In 2020, MLB pipeline ranked him as the 24th best prospect in baseball. In 2021 we was the AFL Hitter of the Year and AFL Rising Stars MVP. In 2022 he was promoted to AAA, where his .885 OPS and 28/21 SO/BB ratio were impressive.

“He’s got a quality work routine he sticks to. He listens. He’s coachable. He’s very self-aware and he works hard at all areas of his game.” — Geoffrey DeGroot, November 2020

The Pitching Matchups.

The Closers are great!

  • The Marlins’ closer is Anthony Bender. This season, he has 6 saves in 8 opportunities.
  • The Diamondbacks’ closer is Mark Melancon. This season, he has 5 saves in 6 opportunities.

Monday 6:40 PM Arizona time, Elieser Hernandez (60 ERA+) vs Humberto Castellanos (97 ERA+).

This season, in Elieser Harnandez’s start against the Diamondbacks he allowed 5 earned runs in 4 innings. Will Diamondbacks’ batters repeat that performance?

In his last start against the Marlins, Humberto Castellanos allowed zero earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched. His 67.3 game score (average of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and methods) was his best of the season.

Tuesday, Jesus Luzardo (130 ERA+) vs Madison Bumgarner (267 ERA+).

Jesus Luzardo’s first start of the season was against the Angels. His 12 strikeouts in 5 innings was amazing. His latest start of the season was above average with 7 strikeouts and 2 earned runs in 6 innings.

Madison Bumgarner. Perhaps he will focus on emotional control so that he avoids any verbal outbursts that would get him ejected from the game. I predict that mindset will improve his pitching.

Wednesday, Sandy Alcantara (131 ERA+) vs Merrill Kelly (327 ERA+)

Sandy Alcantara had a 1.78 ERA in April and a 6.10 ERA in May. Will Diamondbacks’ batters take advantage of that split?

This season, Merrill Kelly extended his streak to 6 games with zero home runs allowed. How long will he maintain his streak?

“Scoring runs against Merrill Kelly requires small-ball. Merrill Kelly allowed zero home runs in five games this season. Before this season, in his entire career in the Majors, his longest streak without a homer is 2 games.” — Makakilo