March 20, 2012; Jupiter FL, USA; NFL former quarterback Joe Namath (center) talks with Miami Marlins third base coach Joey Espada (4) and the umpire at home plate before the start of a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Tampa Bay Rays (32-25) @ Miami Marlins (31-26) June 8th, 7 PM EST (Game 58)

The Miami Marlins have a big nine-game home-stand, that they continue with by hosting the Tampa Bay Rays. The home-stand did not get off to the best of starts. In the three game series against division foes, the Atlanta Braves, the Marlins were swept and outscored in the series 20 to 3. It was the worst display for the Marlins of the entire 2012 season. In the final game of the series with the Braves, the Marlins went an abysmal 0-for-13 with runners on base.

This came after the Marlins had a strong May, and a strong start to the month of June. The Braves were the team that came into Miami struggling, but you could not tell that watching any of the games.

The Marlins now get to host instate rival, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are coming off of losing two of three to the New York Yankees. The Rays come into this series as losers of seven of their past ten games. Neither team can boast a powerful offense, and both teams have strong rotations. Runs should be at a premium this series.

 

 

The Marlins need to bounce back this series and get to playing the baseball they capable of playing. The Marlins are now sitting in fourth in their division, two games back of the division leading Washington Nationals:

 

East W L PCT GB L10 STRK HOME ROAD LAST GAME NEXT GAME
Washington 32 23 .582 - 5-5 L1 18-10 14-13 6/7 vs NYM, L 1-3 6/8 @ BOS, 7:10 PM
Atlanta 32 25 .561 1.0 6-4 W4 12-11 20-14 6/7 @ MIA, W 8-2 6/8 vs TOR, 7:35 PM
NY Mets 32 26 .552 1.5 5-5 W1 19-12 13-14 6/7 @ WSH, W 3-1 6/8 @ NYY, 7:05 PM
Miami 31 26 .544 2.0 5-5 L3 16-13 15-13 6/7 vs ATL, L 2-8 6/8 vs TB, 7:10 PM
Philadelphia 28 31 .475 6.0 3-7 L6 12-19 16-12 6/7 vs LAD, L 3-8 6/8 @ BAL, 7:05 PM

 

Stadium: Marlins Park

Five-year Run PF*: N/A
Five-year HR PF*: N/A
Stadium Dimensions:
Left field line—340 ft.
Left-center field—384 ft.
Center field—416 ft.
Right-center field—392 ft.
Right field line—335 ft.

*Five-year regressed park factors provided by Patriot here

Head to Head


Tampa Bay Rays
32-25

Miami Marlins
31-26
BATTING Rays Marlins
Batting Average .234 .246
Runs 238 221
Hits 434 471
PITCHING Rays Marlins
Earned Run Average 3.46 3.79
Hits Allowed 457 491
Opponent Batting Average .237 .254

 

Both teams come into this series built on pitching. Neither team has hit particularly well this season, but the Rays have outscored the Miami Marlins by 17 runs this season, despite a much lower team batting average. Like I said before, if you are looking for a high scoring affair between these two teams, you are highly mistaken.

 

Probable Starters


Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
2012 stats
70.1 Innings Pitched 68.1
4-2 Wins-Losses 6-3
2.69 Earned Run Average 4.35
22 Walks 18
49 Strikeouts 39
103 Pitches Per Start 95
Career vs. opponent
- Innings Pitched 24.1
Wins-Losses 2-3
- Earned Run Average 8.51

Ricky Nolasco, RHP

 

The Marlins will give the ball to Ricky Nolasco, who has surrendered 18 runs in 9 1-3 innings while losing his last three starts to the Rays. Nolasco won his first two career starts against Tampa Bay, but has not defeated the Rays since June 15, 2008. Last time out, Nolasco allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings last Saturday, in a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia. Nolasco is just 2-3 with a 6.59 ERA over his last five outings after starting the season 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his first six starts of 2012. Nolasco has struggled of late and is facing an offense that has always owned him. The Rays will be without Evan Longoria, which should work in Nolasco’s favor, but Carlos Pena will be in the lineup. Pena is a career 4-for-8 with two home runs off of Nolasco.

The Marlins hitting struggles should not get any easier when they face Jeremy Hellickson on Friday evening. Last time out, Hellickson turned in another solid start, pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on four hits and a walk with eight strikeouts on Saturday in a loss to Baltimore at Tropicana Field. Hellickson had a very strong 2011 rookie season and is pitching well again in 2012. No active Marlin has ever face Hellickson, and it should be interesting to see what kind of approach they have against him.

 

Marlins Lineup

Lineup Player Current wOBA Proj. wOBA v. RHP Career BA vs Hellickson
1 Jose Reyes
.327 .350
2 Omar Infante
.354 .321
3 Hanley Ramirez .353 .351
4 Giancarlo Stanton .404 .373
5 Greg Dobbs .282 .364
6 Austin Kearns
.470 .315
7 Chris Coghlan .178 .320
8 John Buck .268 .300

 

Austin Kearns is active and there is no reason for Ozzie Guillen not to insert him into his lineup right away. Kearns has been one of the best hitters on the Marlins this season and if he can provide anything for the Marlins now that he is healthy again, would be huge for the Fish. Kearns was actually 5 for his last 5 before the injury caused him to be shelved. Greg Dobbs will be starting in place of Logan Morrison in this game.

Jose Reyes hit his first home run of the season last night against the Braves, maybe that will open up more extra base hits for him now. The Marlins need Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton to have a big game to give the Marlins a chance of winning.

 

The Marlins will need Hanley Ramirez to reheat up after a slow series against the Braves. (Image: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE)

 

Prediction:

The Miami Marlins drop the first game of the three game series. Nolasco has a strong start for the Marlins, but Hellickson one ups him with a complete game shutout. The Rays are able to plate three off of Nolasco, on a three-run shot by Carlos Pena in the seventh inning. The Rays win the ballgame 3-0, as the Marlins drop their fourth straight ballgame.

Tags: Austin Kearns Carlos Pena Chris Coghlan Evan Longoria Giancarlo Stanton Hanley Ramirez Jeremy Hellickson John Buck Jose Reyes Logan Morrison Miami Marlins Omar Infante Ricky Nolasco Tampa Bay Rays

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