With the World Champion Kansas City Royals having just fought their way back into the playoff race, they set off to south Florida to take on the Wild Card hopeful
Florida Miami Marlins of the National League. The Marlins sit 8.5 games back in the N.L. East, but their 65-59 record puts them just 1.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot and three games behind the San Francisco Giants. Of course, they also find themselves without the services of star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who made his annual trip to the disabled list, this time with a groin injury that at first looked to sideline him for the rest of the season but now may just keep him off the field for all but the last week of the season.
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference
Game One - Tuesday, 6:10 PM CDT
When the question "How does one go about strengthening their starting rotation at the trade deadline?" gets asked, very few people would have come forth with the answer "Andrew Cashner." Acquired at the deadline to give the Marlins a bit more depth in their rotation, Cashner has been about as bad as most would have envisioned when the trade went down. In four starts and a short relief appearance in an extra-inning game, Cashner has recorded an out in the sixth just once. In his two worst starts as a Marlin, he yielded seven and four earned runs - at Colorado and against the Pale Hoes, respectively. His other two starts at least saw him give up only two and one runs, but neither appearance looked good in the peripheral sense. As a Fish, he has struck out just 13 in 21.1 innings of work while issuing 10 walks and a hit batsman. When compared against his 10.4 BB%, his 13.4 K% looks even more dismal than it would were it standing on its own [de]merits. The only reason his ERA hasn't been even higher than his 5.48 mark in Miami has been that his home-run rates have been palatable since the trade.
Game Two - Wednesday, 6:10 PM CDT
For those who know next to nothing about the National League, Jose Fernandez is every bit as outstanding as Andrew Cashner is mediocre. His absurd 204 strikeouts trail just Max Scherzer, who leads him by a mere 13. Fernandez finds himself second on the strikeout leader board despite trailing most of his closest competitors by roughly 30 innings thanks to a brief stint on the disabled list. His 4.9 fWAR is good for third-best among starting pitchers, trailing just Clayton Kershaw (whose 5.5 mark is still the best in baseball despite not having pitched since June 26) and Noah Syndergaard. Put simply, Jose Fernandez is really damn good.
Game Three - Thursday, 6:10 PM CDT
Tom Koehler is a guy. He builds off a four-seamer with a slider and knuckle-curve as his key second offerings. He occasionally mixes in a two-seamer and a change, though neither are particularly solid pitches. More a ground-ball pitcher than a fly-ball pitcher, he has been able to avoid the long ball, which is saying something in the Year of the Dong. His peripherals suggest a solid if unspectacular starter. His arsenal with a fastball sitting in the neighborhood of 92 MPH screams middle-to-back-of-the-rotation, as does his track record.
|Dee Gordon (L)||2B||196||0||32||9||15||.279||.321||.339||.288||76||0.6||0.4|
|Christian Yelich (L)||LF||503||15||65||72||6||.314||.384||.498||.378||136||3.6||4.4|
|Ichiro Suzuki (L)||RF||269||0||33||13||9||.308||.380||.384||.337||109||1.4||1.5|
|Derek Dietrich (L)||Util||360||4||29||32||1||.276||.369||.403||.339||111||1.4||1.7|
Stats through Sunday, August 21
As a unit, the Marlins are the eight-most valuable collection of position players in baseball, though most of this value is tied not to their bats but to their defense. Judging by the defensive component in fWAR, they have the fourth best defensive unit. Defensive Runs Saved (which loves the Royals) likes them a bit less, with their 15 DRS ranking just eighth.
Offensively, the Marlins' 95 wRC+ is good for just 18th in baseball. As a unit, they walk a little more and strike out a little less, but they have a similar power profile, homering 106 times and sporting a .138 ISO (compared to the Royals' 108 and .136). Of course, the Marlins' biggest threat to leave the yard is recuperating with an ice pack on his crotch for the next four weeks. Right now, their offense looks pretty similar to the Royals' generally punchless offense.
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