There’s no better cure for a slump or some bad times then a series sweep, and the Marlins pulled just that off by completing a four-game sweep against the New York Mets. The Mets, as expected, sent a forgettable set of starters following Johan Santana and, even though the Marlins did not counter with the best performances, were able to score just enough runs to pull ahead. Outside of the Game 2 blowout, all of the Marlins’ wins were close.
Series Hero: Cody Ross (0.370 WPA)
Series Goat: Chris Leroux (-0.217 WPA)
Impressed By: Gaby Sanchez (19 PA, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 4 K)
Depressed By: Nate Robertson (5 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, 7 H)
Sanchez follows Johnson in impressive pitching performance
Anibal Sanchez did not want to be outdone by Josh Johnson’s gem of a game in Game 1 of the series. In Game 2, Sanchez came out of the gates flying, striking five hitters in two innings before settling for seven K’s versus only two walks in seven innings of work. Sanchez’ batted balls did not impress, as he allowed nine fly balls and three line drives according to the BIS data used by FanGraphs. Still, Sanchez was doing his damned best to keep hitters from putting the ball into fair territory. He induced 11 whiffs during the game, five coming from his impressive slider.
Here were Sanchez’ sliders for the evening:
Nothing terribly remarkable, but it is good to note that there were few, if any, backdoor sliders that just didn’t break accordingly. The majority of the 25 pitches thrown ended up low and away to the right-handed hitters, which is exactly what you want to see from the slider. The ones that he did put too close to the zone were hit, thought the results were not awful. A lot of the beat writers were commenting on how well Sanchez’ breaking pitches were moving, and I imagine the slider had a big part in this. This is the sort of stuff I expect from Anibal Sanchez, whom I imagine as a Ricky Nolasco Lite. He needs to get strikeouts, because he certainly is not a wizard with the ground ball.
Chris Coghlan and the supposed “best at-bat of the season”
First off, those aren’t my words, but rather Joe Frisaro’s. I think there were a few other PA that were worthy of the title, and clearly not all “good” PA have to end with hits (which is why I take exception to the “at-bat” usage). For example remember Gaby Sanchez’ first PA versus Johan Santana on Opening Day? Hell of a plate appearance if you ask me.
Anyway, check out Coghlan’s PA yourself.
It was quite an arduous PA for Coghlan. He swung at all the right pitches, save for one high fastball from Fernando Nieve. Remember, even that seventh pitch, a changeup low and away to Coghlan, would have likely been called a strike given the consistent irregularity that lefty strike zones have, extending the outer half another eighth of a foot away from the “normal” zone. Nieve threw the sink at him, even tossing him a slider that dipped low and was wisely taken by Coghlan. The last pitch that Coghlan over the fence was the kicker, a poorly located fastball above the waist which he turned on and sent to the tarp in center field (note the terrible Rich Waltz call). The pinch-hit home run was worth .153 WPA, giving some much needed cushion between the two teams after the Mets bombed Chris Leroux and made it a one-run game.
Leo Nunez gets the three-run save again
It was funny to me that radio play-by-play guy Dave Van Horne mentioned before Leo Nunez’ appearance in Game 4 that Fredi Gonzalez was hoping that he did not have to use Nunez that evening, right before Fredi sent him out for a meaningless three-run save. How meaningless was sending out the closer? The starting LI of that inning was 0.83, meaning that the plate appearance was only 83% as important as an average PA.
If Fredi were smart, he would know that this game was well in hand and that, if he was concerned about Nunez’ workload, he could afford to rest Nunez at least until the Mets threatened. Even after the Jason Bay triple, the LI was only 1.13, 13% more important than the average PA. The average closer entering LI is around 1.8, and it should be closer to 2. Yet, because it was a save opportunity, no matter how inane an opportunity it was and no matter what Fredi’s concerns were about Nunez, he had to send him out. Nunez is the closer.
I feel like I’ve had this rant a few times in the past, so I apologize for those readers who are well aware of this. But someone should really tell Fredi that the save is not a rule and that your closer does not have to go out there simply because there is a save to be had.