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Miami Marlins Series Preview: Bienvenidos a Miami

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The Royals are taking their talents to South Beach in a series filled with draft ramifications.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins
Aug 8, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro (38) connects for an RBI single in the fourth inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals actually visited the Miami Marlins as recently as 2016. You remember Jarrod Dyson’s amazing catch in center field during that series. Or maybe you don’t. That’s okay too. That year, the Marlins finished 79-82 while the Royals finished 81-81. Both were thoroughly mediocre in 2017 as well before starting a decline in 2018 that has continued this season, so the trajectory is fairly similar since the 2016 season. Both teams rely on a lot of inexperience and hope that their farm systems will produce big talent soon. The Marlins don’t have much offensively right now, with the fewest home runs in all of baseball to go along with one of the lowest stolen base totals (and the worst success rate when trying). They’re also one of just two teams with a sub-.300 OBP and they have the lowest SLG in baseball. Pitching-wise, it seems like they’re in better shape as they have a handful of young guys who at least seem to have some upside, but they’ve been pretty bad there ranking toward the bottom in pretty much every key category. They’ve walked more than every team but one while ranking in the bottom half in strikeouts. Let’s just say things aren’t going great in the moment in Miami.

Meet the Marlins

Royals vs. Marlins Tale of the Tape

Category Royals Marlins
Category Royals Marlins
Winning % .362 .360
Team wRC+ 83 76
Team xFIP 4.92 5.06
Run Differential -150 -174
Highest fWAR Hunter Dozier, 3.2 Brian Anderson, 3.1

Marlins Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Miguel Rojas SS 433 .282 .335 .381 6.9% 12.7% 90 1.7
Harold Ramirez RF 369 .270 .309 .414 4.1% 21.1% 90 0.4
Starlin Castro 3B 579 .273 .299 .421 3.6% 16.8% 87 0.8
Neil Walker 1B 329 .264 .343 .384 10.6% 19.8% 96 0.3
Isan Diaz 2B 112 .156 .268 .240 12.5% 27.7% 43 -1.2
Jorge Alfaro C 393 .274 .313 .425 3.8% 34.4% 94 1.4
Lewis Brinson CF 188 .178 .226 .241 3.7% 30.3% 25 -1.0
Austin Dean LF 118 .202 .220 .342 2.5% 28.0% 41 -0.8

Marlins Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Tyler Heineman (AAA) C 273 .336 .400 .590 7.7% 12.8% 137 ---
Bryan Holaday C 111 .276 .345 .418 9.0% 16.2% 99 -0.4
Garrett Cooper 1B/OF 394 .276 .343 .442 8.1% 26.4% 108 1.0
Martin Prado INF 221 .234 .262 .287 4.1% 16.3% 46 -1.1
Jon Berti INF/OF 203 .268 .350 .436 8.4% 24.6% 110 1.6
Curtis Granderson OF 342 .184 .281 .358 11.1% 27.5% 70 -1.3
Magneuris Sierra (AAA) OF 352 .271 .304 .399 4.3% 16.5% 67 ---

Marlins Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Jose Urena 16 76.2 4 8 15.4% 7.2% 4.93 4.78 0.5
Jarlin Garcia 44 43.1 2 1 20.7% 7.5% 2.91 4.62 0.4
Tayron Guerrero 45 40.2 1 1 21.2% 17.6% 5.98 6.55 -0.7

Probable Pitching Matchups

Friday September 6th - 6:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Jorge Lopez 34 98.0 2 7 21.6% 8.7% 6.61 4.61 -0.2
Pablo Lopez 16 84.2 5 7 21.9% 5.4% 4.89 4.22 1.3

Pablo Lopez has been quietly not awful for the Marlins after a decent debut in 2018. This year, he’s taken steps forward with strikeouts and walks while keeping his hits down. So he’s not allowing many base runners, but he’s been really hurt by his sinker this season. He’s allowed a .316 average and .561 SLG on it with hardly any swings and misses. He only throws it 17 percent of the time, but it’s enough to hurt. He’s also had trouble with lefties, which won’t pose a huge problem for him against this Royals team that relies heavily on a few right-handed bats. He’s also had a Glenn Sparkman-like season with a 2.66 ERA at home and a 7.71 ERA on the road. This game is at home, which isn’t great for the Royals either. For Lopez, it boils down to how he pitches with men on base. With the bases empty, he’s allowed a .218/.268/.379 line. With runners in scoring position, though, it jumps to .297/.395/.531. That’s not going to cut it.

Jorge Lopez gets the call for the Royals in an audition for next season with Brad Keller shut down. The numbers are really ugly, but I will say that I think he looked better in his last start even though he didn’t get through the fifth inning. Yes it was the Orioles, but he had some swings and misses and left two men on base for Tim Hill, who gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced. Of course, Lopez doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt, not with the season he’s had and the blowups he’s had. And now in his last two appearances, he’s gone 6.1 innings and given up nine runs on nine hits. So he’ll need to show something against an offense he should have no issues handling or else it might be the final nail in his Royals coffin.

Saturday September 7th - 5:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Danny Duffy 19 106.2 5 6 20.2% 8.0% 4.89 5.13 0.8
Caleb Smith 23 127.2 8 9 28.2% 9.0% 4.30 4.65 1.0

Caleb Smith reminds me an awful lot of the guy the Royals faced in their Tigers series finale, Matthew Boyd. It’s not necessarily the repertoire, though he also has a slider that gets a ton of swings and misses and a fastball without eye-popping velocity that gets a lot of strikeouts. But he also gives up quite a few home runs. And he also had a really strong start to a season that has since gone south. He was solid against Boyd’s Tigers on May 21, giving up two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks over five innings. Since then, it’s been rough. He’s 5-8 with a 5.67 ERA and has allowed 21 home runs over 74.2 innings. In those 14 games, he’s allowed four or more runs eight times and fewer than three runs just four times. So things aren’t going great for the lefty. And since the start of August, he hasn’t been nearly as adept at getting the strikeout with a rate just a touch over 20 percent. It could be some fatigue as he threw just 77.1 innings last year and 119.1 in 2017, but he’s definitely trending in the wrong direction.

Danny Duffy returned to the rotation after nearly a month off and I thought looked pretty good. The numbers weren’t eye popping, but four runs (three earned) over 6.1 innings and touching 96 a couple times were encouraging. The fastball was actually a really good pitch for him in that start with six whiffs on it and it. His slider had some good movement on it as well, but it looked rusty. This will be the first time Duffy has ever faced the Marlins and he’s actually only faced five Marlins players in his career with Curtis Granderson having the most plate appearances at 13, so if he has it working, he should be able to cruise a little bit in this one.

Sunday September 8th - 12:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Mike Montgomery (w/Royals) 9 46.1 2 5 21.1% 6.2% 3.69 3.88 0.6
Sandy Alcantara 27 162.2 4 12 17.7% 11.0% 4.26 5.39 1.6

Sandy Alcantara has been pretty solid in his first full season even making an All-Star team. But if you dig deeper, you can see some issues. For one, he doesn’t strike out many hitters. For another, he walks far too many. That’s a dangerous combination. He’s really been up and down all year with his ERA dropping as low as 3.51 toward the end of June and as high as 4.93 in early May. He throws very hard, averaging 95-96 on his fastball, and it’s been really effective, though without enough swings and misses. His sinker has also been quite good with a .246 average against and just four home runs allowed. The slider is where he’s gotten in trouble. It can be a good strikeout pitch for him, but sometimes it just spins and when that happens, it gets hit hard with an average exit velocity of 89.4 MPH and a .512 slugging percentage allowed. Like Pablo Lopez, Alcantara gets himself into trouble with men on, and especially in scoring position. With the bases empty, opponents are hitting .222/.318/.378, but with runners in scoring position, it jumps to .273/.354/.468 and given his proclivity for walking hitters, he ends up with a fair amount of men on base, so that can be a pretty big issue.

It seems a little weird to say, but Mike Montgomery has probably been the Royals best starter since they acquired him in July. He’s striking guys out, limiting walks and reasonably limiting home runs as well. And since those first two starts when he wasn’t getting any swings and misses, he’s 2-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 39.1 innings over seven starts with 40 strikeouts and 11 walks. He’s been a little too hittable when opponents make contact, but he has allowed a .359 BABIP as well, so there might be a little bad luck involved there. He has a 24.5 percent strikeout rate in those seven starts and just a 6.7 percent walk rate. That’ll play. He’s faced the Marlins seven times in his career with one start and has a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 career innings against them. Even with that experience, he hasn’t seen much of the current Marlins team, but the ones he has haven’t fared all that well against him, so that bodes well.

Prediction

The Marlins are a mess. They took three of four against the Diamondbacks at the end of July. Since then, they’re 8-27. Most of that struggle has been on the road, so I think they actually take two of three from the Royals this series. What do you think?

Poll

Battle of the Bottom Feeders. Who takes it?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Royals Sweep
    (8 votes)
  • 10%
    Marlins Sweep
    (7 votes)
  • 48%
    Royals Win Two of Three
    (33 votes)
  • 29%
    Marlins Win Two of Three
    (20 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now