After a horrific series against the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies, one filled with horrors of every conceivable fashion and even those beyond imagination, there was nothing better for the Marlins to do but to feast on one of the worst teams in the majors in the San Diego Padres. Well, it wasn’t a feast, but the Marlins did come away with the series sweep in an important set before they face the National League’s best team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Let’s take a look at some things.
Ricky Nolasco got back on track.
Ricky Nolasco showed up with another dominating performance. While this has been mostly par for the course for Ricky since his return from Triple-A, he did struggle in his previous two outings. This afternoon was not a struggle. Against the National League’s worst hitting team, Ricky allowed just two hits and three walks (two in that final inning in which he struggled) and struck out ten batters. It was another nasty outing, and it was fun to watch.
Can’t say I’m a fan of some of the locations of his sliders, but he caused some 16 whiffs out of 97 pitches and was in the strike zone consistently (66% strikes), so I won’t complain. At this point I have a feeling Ricky’s stuff is so nasty that no one is touching it even if the location isn’t ideal. Some of the high fastballs need to come down, but we know Nolasco isn’t a ground ball guy and misses far more bats with his approach. I’m OK provided he misses those bats, but the home runs he’s given up recently have been a result of such locations of his fastball.
Chris Volstad was grounding the Padres.
In Chris Volstad’s start Tuesday night, his peripherals weren’t up to par with what we’ve come to expect from him. Volstad only struck out two while walking four, odd coming from a guy who is quickly developing some strong strikeout capability. But the one thing that Marlins fans had to be happy with in his start was the preponderance of ground ball outs. Chris gave up 13 grounders as compared to five fly balls and three liners, yielding a nice 62% GB% for the evening. This should be Volstad’s MO for the rest of the season, because it obviously will help him avoid his nemesis, the home run, and keep his decent low-velocity stuff from getting hit hard.
Volstad went inside on the righties and stayed away from the lefty hitters, resulting in a ton of pitches left part of the plate. Wish I had watched the game to see how well he was able to jam hitters, it may have resulted in some of those grounders. If anyone got to see Volstad’s grounders, leave a reply and tell me the quality of those balls in play.
Silly closer nonsense again.
If you’ve read my stuff, you must kno I hate the closer. It’s an unnecessary job, because managers shouldn’t be tied to playing players in certain innings rather than certain situations. Well, Fredi doesn’t know this, and he won’t listen to me, but it needs to be pointed out. At the top of the 9th inning, with the Marlins holding a comfortable three-run lead, Leo Nunez was in the bullpen standing and twirling a ball. Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton had him “warming up.” The problem was that, as they mentioned, Fredi wanted to avoid using Nunez in the game because he had worked a lot lately. Given that there was a three-run lead, it seemed pretty obvious that Nunez could take the night off, but instead Fredi had him waiting it out. Meanwhile, Kiko Calero as also warming up, presumably in case Nunez wasn’t up to go.
After Chris Coghlan launched a deep home run to right center to give the Marlins a 5-0 lead, Nunez immediately sat down. It’s no coincidence that Nunez was up when there was a save situation, but was not when the game was “out of hand.” Except that only in the most extreme cases are three-run cushions not already “out of hand.” If Fredi really didn’t want to work Nunez that day, he didn’t have to, because the Marlins had a 97.4% chance of winning the game based on historical data. That’s an absurd total. Sure, anything can happen, but why waste your “closer” in a “save situation” in which there’s very little to save. If Fredi was concerned about Nunez’s workload, this would not have been an issue. But because the save statistic defines a three-run lead in the 9th inning as a save situation, Fredi’s hand were clearly forced to run a potentially tired closer out there to end the game.
That’s a joke. It’s a good thing Coghlan hit that home run, because otherwise we would not have been spared the stupidity of having a manager go against his own word and pitch an important bullpen arm in an extremely low-leverage situation.