Who are the Florida Marlins? That's a very complicated question. On April 19, the Fish had the best record in the majors at 11-1 with the 2nd best run differential. They had yet to lose a road game and had a 5 game lead on everyone in the division, including the defending champion Phillies.
But since April 20, Florida has been outscored by 44 on their way to a 3-13 record. They have lost 6 of of their past 7, and no Florida starter has earned a win in 20 games, a franchise record. The tale of two teams. Both are fluky, but which one is more so?
Easy...look at the schedule. The combined record of the Marlins' opponents in their first 12 games is 35-46, the lowest strength of schedule in that span in the league. Half of that is due to the hapless Nationals (worst NL Pythag), who they defeated six times in their first 12 games.
Florida Marlins (15-14, L3, 3rd)
Friday-Sunday : 3-game series at Coors Field
Florida is ranked 18th in runs, 29th in batting average and 25th in wOBA for the season. Their offense is led by one of the biggest catches in the league in Hanley Ramirez. Outside of he and Jorge Cantu, the offense has been nothing to get excited about.
The Marlins' starting rotation has been touted by some at ESPN as top 5 in MLB, but their recent struggles have dropped the the staff ERA to 16th. Only two starters have an ERA below 5.00.
Rockies Pitchers vs. Marlins Hitters:
It may be hard to believe, but the Rockies pitching staff was #1 in MLB last week in OPS and ERA. They are now within striking distance of top 20. The Marlins, conversely, were near the bottom of the league in runs over the last week while hitting just .211 as a team. They are, however, dangerous outside of Miami, putting up the 2nd most road runs in the NL.
Key bats to silence are Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross, who has a history tormenting Rockies fans. Early season hero Emilio Bonifacio has fallen flat completely, as expected.
Rockies Hitters vs. Marlins Pitchers:
Marlins hurlers have accrued the 3rd most K's in MLB but are also top ten in walks. This would suggest the young starters nibble quite a bit, so the Rockies would do well to continue their patient tendencies. If Todd Helton continues to go nuts with the bat, he could reach 2,000 career hits with a strong weekend, with 10 hits.
Tonight, 7:10 MDT
Ricky Nolasco was Florida's Opening Day starter, but since beating the Nats that day, he has been by far their weakest starter, but he's 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA against the Rockies in his career. The only Rockie with two career hits off Nolasco was yesterday's starting pitcher. Nolasco has allowed an alarming 28% line drive rate, resulting in a .381 BABIP. Not quite the fantasy ace some expected.
|2009 - Ricky Nolasco||1-3||7.03||1.63||27||9|
Jason Hammel is coming off his best start in a Rockies uniform Sudnay, albeit against a horrible offense. Quite frankly, all of his appearances after his debut have been solid. His ERA is quite low for his peripherals, but that WHIP should continue to come down. Only Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida have faced Hammel, and they have combined for 4 singles in 6 AB's.
|2009 - Jason Hammel||0-0||3.45||1.72||8||7|
Saturday, May 9, 6:10 MDT
Josh Johnson is quite the talent. He is 21-11 in his career and came in fourth place in the ROY voting in 2006, despite being 5 innings short of capturing the league ERA title. Five of his six starts have been quality starts this season. He averages 95mph on his fastball and has an insane 6.33 K/BB rate. He mixes in an 83mph slider about a quarter of the time and tosses a change-up every once in a while. He abandoned the curveball after having Tommy John surgery in 2007. This will be his first career start vs Colorado.
|2009 - Josh Johnson||2-0||2.57||1.05||38||6|
Jorge de la Rosa is quietly carving out a very strong 2009 campaign, though his FIP (4.20) is still higher than last season (4.06). He has allowed more than three runs only once in his five starts in 2009 - the Rockies will need a repeat of that with Johnson on the hill.
|2009 - Jorge De La Rosa||0-2||3.90||1.37||23||15|
Sunday, May 10, 1:10 MDT
Chris Volstad lost the battle of the Vols in his last start but has been almost as impressive as Johnson this year. His FIP is 4.54, suggesting that he has lucked into his ERA a bit (.221 BABIP anyone?). The 2nd year righty possesses a low 90's fastball and interchanges between a solid curveball and a change-up as secondary pitches. The Rockies dropped 4 runs on him in his only career start vs. Colorado.
|2009 - Chris Volstad||2-1||2.97||1.10||32||15|
Aaron Cook has strung together three consecutive quality starts and appears to be settling down a bit. He has allowed just 5 runs in his past 20 innings
|2009 - Aaron Cook||1-1||5.67||1.62||18||15|
Hanley Ramirez recovered from being hit in the hand with a pitch as is 8-for-23 in the past week with 3 HR, two last night. Catcher John Baker scored five runs last week in going 6-for-21 with a HR.
As noted above, pretty much the whole team. Dan Uggla (2-for-22 in last 7) is below the Mendoza line for the season, and Cameron Maybin (3-for-17), Emilio Bonifacio (6-for-31) and Jeremy Hermida (5-for-24) were particularly brutal last week.
Anibal Sanchez, he of no-hit fame, left last night with discomfort in his surgically repaired shoulder and has been placed on the 15 day DL. Andrew Miller, Rick VandenHurk and Scott Proctor are on the 15-day DL. Hanley Ramirez sat out a game last week but is fine now.