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Rockies visit "Land Shark" for the first time

What a squirrely team. There's no other way to say it really. The Marlins have been all over the map this season, leading the NL East by 5 games with an 11-1 record, then being outscored by 44 on their way to a 3-13 record. They went a franchise record 20 games without a starting pitcher earning a win. And now?

Florida is a sizzling 15-9 since the All-Star Break, yet have been swept twice. That stretch includes yet another franchise record - coming into this series, the Marlins have recorded at least ten hits in 10 straight games, obliterating their previous record of six from 2000. The Yankees have such a streak of seven games, and five teams have managed streaks of six, but no one else has been close to this type of offensive productivity.

And yet...Florida has lost four of those ten games, meaning they lost ground to half their divisional foes and made up no ground in the wild card during the historic streak. Squirrely.

The Marlins' 32-27 mark at home is hardly intimidating for a contender, especially considering it's just a half game better than the Rockies' 32-28 road mark. They may have hot bats, but they are vulnerable, and the Rockies definitely have a chance to issue redemption for the series the Marlins took at Coors in May. But who knows. The Marlins are weird.

I have found the Marlins' fans to be quite friendly at FishStripes


Florida Marlins (61-54, W1, 2nd & 4.5 GB Div, 3rd & 3.0 GB WC)

Friday-Sunday : 3-game series at Land Shark Stadium

The Bats: B

Florida wasted a lot of at-bats on underperformers early in the season. Emilio Bonifacio, he of the miserable .276 wOBA, still leads the team in ABs. Brett Carroll and Cameron Maybin also brought down the offense by disappointing in the outfield. As a result, the squirreliness continues. Only one hitter in the lineup is below average (by both Fangraphs' wOBA and OPS+), yet the team team wOBA is below league average. Whatever. That's an indicator to give less credence to team-wide stats. The lineup Fredi Gonzalez fields now is not only capable, but they're so hot right now:

Chris Coghlan - LF .287 6 29 .369 .416 .351
Nick Johnson - 1B .296 7 48 .418 .406 .368
Hanley Ramirez - SS .351 17 71 .413 .563 .421
Jorge Cantu - 3B .275 11 63 .336 .428 .334
John Baker - C .280 8 37 .352 .443 .346
Dan Uggla - 2B .240 20 60 .353 .448 .350
Cody Ross - CF .264 20 64 .321 .483 .346
Jeremy Hermida - RF .255 11 44 .344 .383 .323

That's a solid lineup all the way down. By wOBA metrics, the it features one hitter performing at a Superstar level (Ramirez), five solidly above average bats (Coghlan, Johnson, Baker, Uggla, Ross), one average hitter (Cantu), and one slightly below average hitter (Hermida). That spread of wOBA across those ranges is quite reminiscent to the Rockies, but Florida does it in a pitcher's park.

The aforementioned ousted Bonifacio (.249, 1, 24) is listed as a bench infielder, but with only three outfielders on the roster total, Emilio logs innings in the outfield as well as being the only potential reserve middle infielder, though Coghlan could slide in from left if necessary. Ross Gload (.267, 4, 19) and Wes Helms (.268, 2, 23) serve as corner infield pinch hit LR platoon types, and Ronny Paulino (.267, 5, 17) fills in as the reserve backstop.

I'm going to ignore the below average OPS+ and wOBA and give the offense a B. The additions of Johnson and Coghlan have squelched two huge problem areas and legitimized the whole lineup. Their depth is a threat, though the lineup is also atypically erratic. They are capable of scoring 14 runs one night, then turning around and scoring one the next two games. The fact that the young lineup is overflowing with confidence must be taken into account.

Hop after the jump for the scouting report on the arms, the D, the pitching matchups and the hot/cold players.

The Arms: C

The Rockies draw the Marlins' ace tonight, an underrated 25yo who is sixth in ESPN's Cy Young Predictor. The other two starting pitchers are not quite as scary. Chris Volstad has taken two large steps back from last year despite practically identical BABIPs, and Rick VandenHurk is no one to worry about particularly. The staff has a very average 4.35 ERA (17th), with an ERA/FIP/tRA split for the rotation of 4.67/4.27/4.86. For the bullpen, it's 3.79/3.95/4.42. Nothing too fantastic.

25yo and former Royal Leo Nunez has replaced Matt Lindstrom as the closer.

2009 - Leo Nunez 3-4 4.01 1.24 47 20

Renyel Pinto and Dan Meyer are Fredi Gonzalez' lefties. Former closer Matt Lindstrom is back from injury, and he's joined on the right side by Kiko Calero, former replacement play Brendan Donnelly, Chris LeRoux, and Brian Sanches. Calero has been the greatest asset out of the pen.

The D: D

Florida's 73 errors are 8th in MLB, while their UZR/150 is below average, yet those numbers have the benefit of positive defensive play by Bonifacio and Maybin that the Marlins just aren't getting now. Hanley Ramirez is a decent fielding shortstop these days, and Nick Johnson is an asset at first. Otherwise, it isn't pretty. The starting outfield has very poor range and defensive values off the board, and let's just say Dan Uggla's performance in the All-Star Game last year wasn't as much of an anomaly as he'd like you to think.

The Ballpark: Moderate Pitcher's Park

Land Shark Stadium (formerly Dolphin Stadium) has a park factor of 97 this year, though it is 99 in the multi-year spectrum. It strongly limits home runs but has a soft spot for triples.

Probable Pitchers:

Tonight, 5:10 pm MDT

2009 - Jason Hammel 7-6 4.66 1.52 81 25

2009 - Josh Johnson 11-2 2.92 1.10 129 37

Hammel's ERA on the road is still under 3, has quietly won consecutive starts to push him over .500, impressive for a fifth starter, especially considering his competition of late. He's faced the ace or #2 pitcher in every game of the second half - Kevin Correia, Matt Cain, Johan Santana, (Jamie Moyer), and now Josh Johnson. The .363 BABIP he is allowing is 75 points higher than last year in Tampa. Often, a starter with an ERA under 3.00 is a bit lucky. Not Johnson - his FIP is 2.99. He has tossed quality starts in 18 of 20 and allows HR at the 9th lowest MLB rate by inducing the 8th-most ground balls. His big weapon is that 95mph fastball, though his slider and change are well above average too. Favors: MARLINS strongly

Saturday, August 8, 4:10 pm MDT

2009 - Aaron Cook 10-4 3.93 1.41 73 41

2009 - Rick VandenHurk 2-1 4.15 1.38 24 10

Cook is coming off a toe injury, hopefully the cause of the atypical 3 HR he allowed in the last two games. In his last start, he lost for the first time in 11 games, helped in part by a career-high strikeout rate. His Dutch counterpart will strike guys out very well, which could be a problem for the Rockies' lineup, but he walks a fair amount and has a tendency to allow the big fly, which of course, play to strengths of the Rox. His FIP and tRA suggest an extremely fortunate first five starts this season. If Cook remains healthy and we don't see Adam Eaton...
Favors: ROCKIES moderately

Sunday, August 16, 3:05 pm MDT

2009 - Jorge De La Rosa 10-8 4.78 1.38 131 54

2009 - Chris Volstad 8-9 4.71 1.32 96 44

Jorge has now thrown 130 IP the last three years each, on the nose. The first out he records will be a career high, and he can set a career mark with his 11th win as well. He has been the pitcher of record in 15 straight starts, winning 10 of his last 12, so there's a good trend there. Volstad has talent but has struggled this season more than anyone expected. Part of the reason is that he's allowed 23 HR, third most in the NL, disturbing in the HR squelching environment of Land Shark. Other than his HR/FB, peripherals show no regression from his rookie year. BABIPs and GB rate are in line, walks have decreased and strikeouts have increased. He has a lot of talent though....Favors: ROCKIES slightly


In the last ten games, Hanley Ramirez is hitting .429, Chris Coghlan is at .438, and Dan Uggla is a respectable .394. Coghlan has a 12-game hit streak, which started with nine straight multi-hit games. Nick Johnson is hitting .308 with a .500 OBP since joining the Marlins. The team is hitting .315 with an .887 OPS in August. Pinto, Donnelly, Sanches, and Calero all have ERA's under 2.0 since the ASB.


Jorge Cantu is the big name struggling through the August streak, hitting .196 (10-for-51). Cody Ross is hitting just .212 since the All-Star Break, though he leads the team with 6 HR in that span. Dan Meyer has been scored upon on half of his last 4, and Chris Volstad has allowed 6 HR and 21 ER in 34 IP since the break.

Bandaid_mediumAnibal Sanchez (shoulder - 6/3), Alfredo Amezaga (knee - 5/17), and Scott Proctor (elbow - 3/27) are on the 60-day DL. Burke Badenhop (trapezius - 8/2) is on the 15-day.