The last two games have been unfortunate to say the least. With the Marlins continuing their slide of late August into early September, it feels as if whatever shreds of playoff hopes we had are quickly slipping from our hands. If the Marlins can salvage a split with the Atlanta Braves these next two games, the team could presumably still be in it. But being back five games with less than about a month to go is not a great proposition for any club.
So close, yet so far.
In two different situations yesterday, the Marlins had crucial high leverage situations in which they faltered in the worst possible fashion. To those who point out that the strikeout is so much worse than any other out, I reference last night as the reason why that simply is not possible. With the Fish down 3-2, the middle of the order loads the bases with a double and consecutive walks with only one out. Cody Ross steps to the plate and radio play-by-play man Dave Van Horn immediately mentions that Cody grounded into two double plays the previous evening. Sure enough, he does it again, killing the rally. The other situation was in the ninth; the Marlins bring it to within one, 4-3, on a Dan Uggla home run. Ross follows with a walk, but then Jeremy Hermida strikes out (fine, I suppose) and Brett Carroll grounds into another double play (NOT fine).
Taking a look only at the high leverage situations (LI 2.0 or greater), the Marlins had a WPA/LI (so we can take the leverage out of the situation, but still account for context) of -0.095, a little over less than tenth of a win lost to out high leverage performance. If you then took the leverage into account, however, the Marlins recorded a WPA of -0.437, almost half a game! Thus, the team’s “clutch” score for just this game was -0.342, more than a third of a win lost in clutch, high leverage situations.
I would not put a whole lot of predictive stock into that (I can already see people on JCR’s blog whining about how “unclutch” these players are, and it’s making throw up a little in my mouth), but it is frustrating to see the team do this, especially off of the double play ball.
How did we blow a Josh Johnson start?
Well, two Cody Ross double plays to end promising innings certainly didn’t help (again, why do people think strikeouts are bad?). And once the Braves took the lead, the Marlins bats went silent; after collecting six hits in the first four innings, the Marlins were only able to muster out another two hits, two ninth inning doubles by Uggla and Jorge Cantu. By that point, the game was well out of reach.
But while the Fish didn’t capitalize on their strung-together hits, the Braves certainly did. JJ was cruising, having a no-hitter into the sixth inning before a Matt Diaz single. But in the seventh, JJ let through four of his five hits allowed, unable to strand any runners and giving up the small lead the Marlins gave him. Let’s take a look at that inning and see whether that was attributable to luck or location.
The keys to that inning were the four dark purple dots, indicating the pitches JJ threw that landed for base hits. As you can see, two of those pitches were a bit high, with the highest one being a fastball up and in on Chipper Jones, most likely the luckiest of the hits. The leftmost location was an inside fastball to Yuniel Escobar that he turned on for a soft line drive, that can also be attributable to a bit of luck. The other two pitches, especially the Omar Infante triple that went right down the heart of the plate, were mostly to completely off and were JJ’s fault. However, for the other pitches he was around the zone, getting two whiffs and a couple called strikes. In addition, he made arguably one other mistake pitch which was luckily fouled off.
JJ brought his game on Monday evening, but the bad luck he ran into derailed what was otherwise an excellent start.
Worried about Hanley’s hammy
Hanley Ramirez tweaked his hamstring a bit and had to come out of the game last night. Today MLB.com states that Hanley is day-to-day with a tight left hamstring. Obviously the team can only go far (anywhere, really) with Hanley on board, so if he misses any significant amount of time to this, we’ll likely be seeing some losses pile up. Not that Hanley’s been helping lately, as he’s “mired in an 0-for-14 slump,” as the article states. Never mind that all players fall into slumps and that it’s just statistical noise in a specific period of time.
Of course, some people will figure otherwise. Check out what the commenter on that linked article said about Hanley “recently.” Bold italicizing done myself for emphasis.
I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but there was no grimace in his face. No sign of pain. I think he just didn’t want to play last night. Hanley’s been slakcing[sic] lately. It shows that in order for this team to win, he needs to perform.
I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible to conclude. You saw him not grimace in pain from something and decided that he’s dogging it? Do you grimace at everything that hurts you? Is it possible that you didn’t quite see his face at every point, like in the dugout afterwards?
And just because he’s slumping doesn’t mean he’s slacking. Slumps happen, folks, just like hot streaks happen. If the guy’s on a hot streak, is he trying harder? Was Hanley trying harder a week ago when he was still one of the hottest hitters in baseball? Then he suddenly decided to turn it off and coast for a little while? I’m sorry, TonyDamy, but that’s just not likely. What’s more likely is that he’s more or less trying at the same level, and the balls just haven’t fallen for him lately. Can’t say I’m all that surprised, as Hanley can’t possibly be expected to hit .410+ on balls in play forever.
Lighten up on the effort folks, you JUST CAN’T TELL from where you’re sitting. You can’t tell for sure, and there’s not even that many good indicators, so we should stop making declarative statements about it.