First off, great win for the Marlins over the Astros last night. It was a perfect way to come off of that amazing sweep of the Phillies ending the day before. Let’s get to some observations.
Matt Lindstrom’s woes continue.
Looks like Matt Lindstrom’s DL stint didn’t really help him. After a relatively mild return to bullpen duty away from the closer role, Lindstrom had another mini-blowup last night, giving up two runs, one earned, and facing only four batters before being pulled for Leo Nunez.
At some point, you have to think that Lindstrom just isn’t spotting his pitches. But check out his locations, according to Brooks Baseball.
Now here’s what happened to those balls.
It doesn’t seem right. He threw the pitches in all the right places, but they still got hit. Of the four balls in play, he forced theree grounders, two of them which should have been easy outs were it not for a Dan Uggla bobble at second base. Lindstrom made three “bad pitches,” one of which resulted in the Carlos Lee double. For the most part though, he stayed low in the zone with the fastball and did not hang his breaking ball. What more can you ask of the guy?
Lindstrom currently has a BABIP of .366, which tells you a little bit about his luck issues. He’s getting punished even though he’s getting more groundballs than ever and keeping the ball out of the air at a much better rate. He’s allowed just two home runs this season, though with an average 10% HR/FB ratio it could be more like three home runs on the year. Regardless, Lindstrom’s FIP is close to replacement level not because of he’s allowing too many hits, but rather because he’s walking too many guys. However, tonight he was locating excellently and still got shelled, so it may just be that luck is not on Lindstrom’s side this season.
Oh, and I thought I should mention this, as it bears repeating. Nunez was brought in for what seems like the millionth three-run save by Fredi, in a game where, once again, they said they did not want to have him pitch. It’s OK guys, other people can pitch too, I’ve heard.
Cecil Cooper should read up on Hanley Ramirez some.
Perhaps the most puzzling move of the night was the one perpetrated in the Marlins’ three-run sixth inning which put the game out of reach, even with Lindstrom coming in. With the Marlins already bringing in two on a balk and a Chris Coghlan single (and yes, he is still playing ridiculously, as he picked up the single and two walks yesterday), Nick Johnson stepped up to the plate only to see himself get on base via the second intentional walk of the inning. Now, one of these days I’ll do a piece on intentional walks akin to the one I did on the sacrifice bunt situation brought up earlier, but as you might guess, I am not a fan of it. There are a few situations where the walk may be acceptable, and many people have outlined the potential situations before (MGL did a very good two-part piece for The Hardball Times last year which I believe I’ve linked before), but this was not one of them. The reason?
Hanley Freakin’ Ramirez.
It doesn’t take a sabermetrician to tell you that the platoon advantage won’t make up the wOBA difference between Nick Johnson and Hanley Ramirez (well, it will take you one to say it that way, but it won’t take you one to get the gist). Hanley has a .400+ wOBA, Nick Johnson is around .360, which is just a numerical way of saying they’re good, but one’s much better than the other. The platoon advantage is worth some .015 points of wOBA, and even then Hanley has a pretty hefty edge over Johnson. So Astros manager Cecil Cooper, please read up on the players you’re playing against. At least listen to the advance scout.
Dan Uggla’s finally catching some breaks.
This isn’t statistically relevant or anything, but it finally seems as if Danny is catching the breaks he wasn’t catching earlier in the season. He had two hits last night, one off a sharp ground ball to short where, admittedly, Astros “shortstop” Miguel Tejada and his terrible range reside, and one on an infield single. Those are the sort of things you didn’t see early in the year for Uggla, as he struggled mightily to keep himself around the Mendoza Line. Still, now that Uggla’s been catching some breaks, his batting average has increased and, as a result, his offensive production is vastly improved. Right now, Uggla has a .236/.350/.445 line, good for a .348 wOBA.
Perhaps more importantly than his line is his increase in BABIP. Uggla’s BABIP is up to .264, a far cry from the .230 range he was in just one and a half months ago. The balls are finally beginning to drop in, and his production is lining up at around the level he was at two seasons ago during his rookie and sophomore campaigns. Thanks to a recent rash of homers and doubles, Uggla’s pushed his ISO back up over .200 as well, meaning his power stroke is still alive. If he hits his ZiPS projections for the rest of the season, Uggla will end up racking about 12.5 runs above average. His value would then lie on how much better or worse he is on defense. He showed off some range last night with a nifty grab in shallow right field, but it makes you wonder whether a normal second baseman like Brian Roberts wouldn’t just get to the ball standing up. Also, Uggla showed us his occasional hands issues when he botched a late-inning groundball that ballooned into a terrible outing by Lindstrom. We’ll continue to monitor him as we go along, but suffice to say, Uggla’s offense has returned to form and we can expect good things for the stretch run.