Fish-Cap: Marlins disappoint versus Nationals

You figure the good ol’ remedy of the Washington Nationals would be enough to cure the Marlins’ ills. Sadly, the Fish came out flat and struggled despite facing three pitchers who were well below average. Despite a superior pitching staff and lineup, the Marlins were felled in two of three games.

Series Hero: Gaby Sanchez (0.354 WPA)
Series Goat: Burke Badenhop (-0.286 WPA)
Impressed By: Chris Coghlan (10 PA, 4 H, 0 K)
Depressed By: Every hitter who faced Livan Hernandez and struggled. Come on guys, it’s Livan Hernandez!

Players, managers struggle in the clutch

Check out this graph (courtesy of FanGraphs, as always) of win expectancy during the Saturday afternoon game against the Nats.

Via FanGraphs

How about this one from yesterday’s loss?

Via FanGraphs

They actually look fairly similar. The one thing I wanted to point out in particular was the spike downwards towards the Marlins in each of those games. The fact that it was a spike and not simply a downward slope leading to a Marlins win tells me that the team was not delivering in the clutch. The way it happened was actually fairly interesting.

The second game of the series was downed by poor bullpen pitching. After the Fish had taken the 4-3 lead thanks to Gaby Sanchez’ home run, Burke Badenhop came in relief of Josh Johnson and immediately threw the lead away on a home run by Josh Willingham, Hopper came in the following inning and allowed two runners to reach base via a single and a hit-by-pitch. Facing Ryan Zimmerman, the Marlins walked Zimmerman to load the bases and had Renyel Pinto face Adam Dunn.

Let’s consider the aspects of the move. Badenhop for his career has shown a large split between righties and lefties, favoring righties to the tune of a projected 3.48 FIP versus righties and 4.49 FIP versus lefties when I calculated these splits before the seasons started. Pinto, on the other hand, projected to a 4.24 FIP versus lefties. In other words, Badenhop is projected as better versus right handers than Pinto is versus lefties.

Then there’s the aspect of the opposing hitters. ZiPS has Dunn projected as of today as a .395 wOBA hitter the rest of the way, while Zimmerman projects as a .376 wOBA hitter. To be fair, managers don’t necessarily have that data at their fingertips, but I would at least put Zimmerman and Dunn on equal footing as hitters. Their splits aren’t all that off either. Zimmerman may be a .365 wOBA hitter versus righties, while Dunn is perhaps a .355-.360 wOBA hitter versus lefties. The Book says that in the situation provided (runners on second and third, one out, bottom of the eighth inning, tied), the walked hitter must be 1.04 times better than the next guy in order for you to justify the walk. That’s actually pretty close in line, but it does not consider the quality of the pitchers. I think with the pitcher quality, it pushes it closer to not walking Zimmerman.

Now let’s consider why walking Zimmerman to face Dunn is particularly poor given the lefty going to the mound. If I had to name a pitcher whom I wanted least to face a bases loaded situation, it would be Pinto, because he has the worst control of all of the Marlins’ pitchers. Furthermore, you’re facing a guy in Dunn who has one of the best eyes for the strike zone in all of baseball and is well known for not swinging extravagantly. Pairing up a pitcher with no control and a guy with a great eye for the zone is bad business. Plus, one of the greatest benefits of walking the bases loaded is the bonus of the double play, but Pinto is an average pitcher at inducing ground balls and Dunn is a guy who, in his career, has hit a grounder on only 33.5% of his balls in play. It just so happens, of course, that Pinto showed his lack of control and plunked Dunn, bringing the runner in, but I believe the numbers suggest that it was a suboptimal move before the event occurred.

In the third game, the hitters were at fault. Maniac reader Anton brought it up here, and it’s worth looking at the situation as MLB Gameday had it. The Marlins loaded the bases with two consecutive singles and a walk by Hanley Ramirez. This brought up Jorge Cantu for this plate appearance:

As Anton mentions, Cantu flails at three pitches that were borderline or worse, fouling one off and whiffing at another before flying out. Sure, it drove in a run, but the pitcher could not find the zone and Cantu still gave him an out. After Ramirez’ walk, the Marlins had a 62.5% chance of winning, about the same odds the Fish had after the Sanchez home run the previous day. Cantu’s sac fly dropped those odds to 56.8%, and the subsequent outs by Dan Uggla and John Baker put the chances at 48.0%. Instead of delivering 1.57 runs (the expected number of runs scored by end of inning given the bases loaded, no outs situation), the Marlins brought in just one run.

Bryan Petersen makes his debut, outfield continues shuffling

It wasn’t the prettiest of things, but Bryan Petersen did get his first major league chops this weekend, getting two starts and going one for seven with a lone single. Petersen was brought up after the Marlins (rightfully) designated Mike Lamb for assignment after realizing that he wasn’t good. Still, Petersen isn’t much of a hitter right now; he was batting just .290/.377/.380 in Triple-A before receiving the call-up. If he can keep up the walks, it would be a good thing, but with his lack of power, I doubt he’ll be of great use. He’ll get his spot starts because he has a plus glove in the corner outfield, can play center in a pinch, and has good speed on the bases, but I would not expect much.

Speaking of outfielders, the Marlins sat Cameron Maybin in two of the three games in the series, giving strong indication that they will not have patience with him. Maybin is still exhibiting those strikeout problems that threatened to keep him off of the big league team, and with Mike Stanton dominating Double-A and Petersen already in the majors, Maybin needs to get his act together if he wants to stay on the roster. If the struggles with strikeouts continue and his BABIP doesn’t spike back up to unsustainable levels like they were earlier in the year, don’t be surprised if you see another disappointing demotion to Triple-A.

Tags: Bryan Petersen Burke Badenhop Cameron Maybin Gaby Sanchez Jorge Cantu Miami Marlins Renyel Pinto Ryan Zimmerman

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