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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.

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

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