Blogservations: Marlins sweep Mets, but gain no ground


It was great to see the Marlins pick up the sweep over the New York Mets via a laugher of a game last night. The Marlins picked up three games against an ailing team, but thanks to the brilliance of the Colorado Rockies, failed to pick up any ground in the Wild Card chase. With the Philadelphia Phillies stumbling through a few of their games and the Marlins having more games against them than any of the Wild Card participants, the Fish might have to take the division to make the playoffs. And that would entail I believe a full-on sweep of the rest of the games versus the Phillies.

Tough stuff, I’d say.

The hit parade continues.

The Marlins picked up 16 hits last night en route to the 13-4 win over the Mets. The team so far has 101 hits in the month of September, batting a slash line of .311/.393/.526. Big time contributions from Cody Ross, Hanley Ramirez, Nick Johnson, and Dan Uggla all led to the victory. On the series the team scored 23 runs on 31 hits, including seven doubles and five homers. It was also nice to see the team drawing some walks; the club walked 15 times on Mets pitchers, while striking out only 20 times.

Starting pitching still an issue.

It’s somewhat of a good thing the Marlins hit so well, because the starters did not look so hot. Even Ricky Nolasco’s outing was uncharacteristically poor, as he only struck out four in 6 1/3 innings of work, while walking two. The Mets were making contact on Nolasco; 45 of his 67 strikes came on foul balls, while only four were of the swinging variety. Typically, Ricky misses far more pitches than that. Let’s take a look at his stuff on Pitch f/x, as always courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

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I was actually fairly impressed with Ricky’s location. He painted something odd in the strike zone. He stayed mostly on the fringes and away from the strike zone, but a few fastballs did end up right down the pipe, which is definitely something we don’t want to see. A couple were hit for outs, while the hits the opposing team did get were from much better locations, at least from Ricky’s standpoint. There was nothing terribly unusual other than the Mets contact on Ricky’s out pitches. Ricky got quite a few foul balls out of the zone where they usually turn into whiffs. Evidence of that is on the two foul balls located on the lower right hand side of the chart, away from the righties and out of the zone. Those two pitches were sliders and usually result in whiffs, but this time the Mets turned them into foul balls.

Ultimately, the Mets were able to put the ball in play, and unfortunately for Ricky, they bunched up their hits once again, leading to runs. An interesting positive note, however, was that Ricky was keeping the ball on the ground. He induced 12 ground balls out of 18 balls in play, surprising because Ricky’s profile is that of a strikeout-flyball pitcher, partly the reason for his poor BABIP luck early in the year (we have a terrible outfield).

The other two outings, ones by Rick VandenHurk and Sean West, were somewhat brutal to watch. West in particular has been hurt by the big inning and allowing too many hits in a row. That’s a property of luck, and I expect that should go down, but his peripherals haven’t been terribly impressive, though they have been around average. I’m not sure here his stuff is compared to his pre-surgery stuff, but it’s clear he needs more time to rev up his velocity once more.

The Nick Johnson Effect continues.

That’s not the effect that Nick Johnson has that makes everybody in the lineup more patient (that’s just bogus), but rather the effect that he has when he’s in the lineup over “the gritty ones,” our scrubby duo of pinch hitters. Last night Johnson went 2-for-4 with two singles and two walks. On the series at Citi Field, Johnson collected five hits, two doubles, and four walks.

Since returning to the lineup on September 3, Nick Johnson has started six games and recorded 29 plate appearances. In those appearances, he’s recorded ten hits, three of them doubles, and walked six times, while striking out only three times. I’m not sure Johnson knows how to not get on base. Nick has a .517 OBP for the Marlins, a .400+ wOBA while on the team, and has been worth 0.8 WAR just in that time period. He’s not the power threat he used to be, but he never really was that kind of first baseman, and what he’s doing now is the sort of production the team has always wanted near the top of the lineup. I don’t care that he’s slower than I am (I actually think he is, which is scary), put that man at leadoff!

Or not, I’m OK where his right now. At least Fredi hasn’t screwed that part up. Yet.

Next Marlins Game View full schedule »

Tags: Miami Marlins New York Mets Nick Johnson Ricky Nolasco Sean West

  • http://deleted JoeA

    Michael,

    Cool Standings has the Fish with a 6.8% chance at the division while only at 2.6% for the WC. Pretty slim but a couple of wins against the Phils could make things a bit more interesting.

    Love the analysis of N.J. Do you think there is a chance of re-signing him this off season or will Morrison be given the 1b job? It doesn’t seem like there’s much more for him to learn in the minors. Maybe a little more power but I think that will come in time.

  • michaeljong

    JoeA,

    I think the Marlins feel they can find a stopgap for another year if Morrison isn’t ready. Between Sanchez and Cantu, the team probably feels it has the corners ready, and if Cantu becomes to expensive via arbitration, I think the club will reconsider its options regarding Coghlan in the infield. Plus, Johnson’s probably going to end up too expensive for us, but if he won’t mind a one-year deal, the team should take a flier.

  • JoeA

    Rich Waltz on Chris Coughlin in the outfield: “His athleticism makes up for his lack of experience and skill”. Uh…no.

  • michaeljong

    JoeA,

    Agreed. Coghlan looks a bit awkward in the outfield and a bit slow to react. And he hasn’t looked athletic, but none of our outfielders have, really. I long to see Brett Carroll get a 100 games in the outfield and 400 PA, just to see what a good defender looks like.

  • JoeA

    Michael,

    We can dream about that happening, but the only way I think it will is if Brett Caroll has pictures of Fredi in a compromising position like Bonifacio obviously must have had.

  • michaeljong

    JoeA,

    Oh, if only my friend, if only.

  • BigBoynBroward

    Ah, so many games were farted away with Bonifacio playing every single day, and even worse leading off or batting second…….

  • michaeljong

    BigBoy,

    Yes, he probably cost us a little more than two wins versus an average player at 3B. Really, really bad.

  • JoeA

    Ah, but the speed! That game changing speed…. The only speed I ever saw was how quickly he could make it from home plate to the dugout after striking out.

  • JoeA

    The sad part is we probably had a slightly above average third baseman playing in New Orleans most of the year.

  • michaeljong

    JoeA,

    Not sure how good Gaby would’ve been at third. Minor League Splits does say he was a league average third baseman in the small time he’s played this year. But I do agree that even if Sanchez was a bit below average (I’d say he’d be slightly below league average offense and defense), it would’ve been a good deal better than Bonfiacio.

  • JoeA

    Michael,

    With an expanded bench, Fredi sends up Bonfacio to bat left handed in a high leverage situation. He’s bad righty, but lefty he’s atrocious….Oh well so I have a little less hair, right?

  • JoeA

    I think there are a lot of players in MLB like Bonifacio or Dioner Navarro that should just quit switch hitting and bat from their stronger side.

    Actually those two guys should probably quit altogether.

  • michaeljong

    JoeA,

    I lost a lot of hair in that decision. A lot. I was pulling quite literally at it. I want go yell at Fredi in person, but I can’t.

    Patience my friend, a post on this is coming soon. Hold your anger off until then.

  • DavidC

    It seemed like Ricky was using his change-up more often than he usually does, and I don’t see that he used his big breaking ball at all. His change-up sinks very well, which probably explains all the ground balls. He’s been using it a lot lately; maybe he’s trying to develop it to use on a regular basis, and is toying with it in different scenarios to see how best to use it. That’s my take, anyway.

  • michaeljong

    DavidC,

    Welcome to the Maniac’s comments section! With regards to Ricky’s change, maybe you’re right. According to Pitch f/x, Ricky’s change is dropping a good six inches less than his fastball, with more break into the righties. Since he can’t use his slider versus the lefties, he’s been relying a lot on his change and fastball against them. I’ll check out some Pitch f/x data from his last two games and see if your contention on an increased number of changeups is right.

  • DavidC

    Thank you Michael.

    And as for the frequency of the change-up, you might want to start with his second start against Houston. Ricky himself said that he threw a lot more change-ups than he normally does, and he felt that that was the major difference between the two starts. From watching the games, it seems like he has started incorporating it more since that start.