The Miami Marlins have not had the home-stand that they envisioned when they returned home for nine games against the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, and Boston Red Sox. The team fell to 0-6 on the home-stand, after being swept by the Rays in a 4-2 loss. The Marlins starting pitching, the bullpen, and the lineup as a whole have struggled these past six games.
The Marlins are now 7-30 over the past 37 June games in the past two seasons. While the Marlins have struggled, the team still is positioned five games behind the division leading Washington Nationals. Now is not the time to panic if you are a Miami Marlins fans.
The first game of the Marlins-Red Sox series will be broadcasted on ESPN on Monday night. Yes, it seemed like a mistake to me as well and I still believe it might be one, but just do not say anything and we may actually get away with it!
As usual, to preview the series, I had a quick chat with a Fansided writer of the opposing teams site. Over the past few days, I had an opportunitiy to chat it up with Derek Stykalo, the editor of BoSox Injection. Derek and his staff do an excellent job on their site, if you ever get a chance, please do check them out.
Here is a look at our chat:
Ehsan Kassim : I have to ask this question, what happened to the Red Sox last September? Has the team fully recovered from their issues at the end of last season?
Derek Stykalo: Last season was a case of the patients running the asylum that had been in the works for quite some time and unfortunately it hit it’s breaking point last August when the team started to skid. September was the cap to the collapse and unfortunately Terry Francona took the fall because of his “players coach” approach to the club. The owners wanted blood and they got it with a public hanging of Tito. The players, some not at all, quit playing and a good man lost his job over it. It’s still a bitter memory and while I think the team has recovered from the issues, there are still some egos that linger on this club that need to be addressed before the team is completely out from under that ugly cloud.
EK: It has been over seven years since the huge blockbuster trade between the Marlins and Red Sox, which involved Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez. How does Red Sox nation feel about the trade right now?
DS: As of right now I’d say that Red Sox Nation would want the Ramirez back. Obviously Beckett came to Boston and did some terrific things in a few seasons but he’s also been inconsistent over the past few years and injuries has played a part in that. He was pegged as the ring leader in the black September we referred to above and then the whole golf gate issue earlier this year was the icing on the cake for many fans. His attitude rubs a lot of people the wrong way and throw that in with all that he’s done off the field, many Red Sox fans want him gone; not today, not tomorrow but yesterday. I personally think this club needs Beckett and he’s been the true ‘ace’ of the staff lately, returning to his dominating ways on the mound that everyone expects from him. He’s 2-2 in his last five starts with a 2.23 ERA with 25 K’s and 5 BB in 36.2 innings and has allowed the Red Sox a chance to win the three games he didn’t win.
EK: How do you think the Red Sox did in the 2012 First Year Players Draft last week?
DS: It was a different draft strategy for the Red Sox this year because of the new limit on what can be offered to the draftees in terms of contracts. Rather than throw a boatload of money at the top tier talent the Red Sox drafted more on who was still the best player available but also addressed some of their long-term needs ie: pitching. Their first overall pick, Deven Marrero is drawing rave reviews from what I’ve read and the word is he may be ready sooner than later leading some to believe there is a big of a logjam being created at shortstop in the Red Sox system. With Xander Bogaerts developing at a rapid pace at high A ball and Mike Aviles turning out to be a late bloomer for Boston, some are discussing whether Jose Iglesias is suddenly expendable via the trade market.
EK: Cody Ross was a fan favorite in Miami and was on his way to becoming one in Boston as well, can you tell us about the impact of his injury on the team? When is Ross expected to return to the team?
DS: Cody Ross was pimping at the plate before he went down and I recall the game in early May in Minnesota where he single handedly won the Red Sox the game with two long balls. In my opinion he was an absolute steal at $3 million for one year and his character is said to go a long way in the clubhouse, something this team desperately needed. His injury further depleted the Sox outfield and took a consistent bat out of the lineup. Deals were then forced to be made to acquire Marlon Byrd and Scott Podsednik when the injury bug continued to devour the outfield making it a very crowded position when the regulars return. There’s been some small chatter about potentially trading Ross if he returns to form when he’s activated, but I think it would be a huge mistake. It’s a different lineup when Cody is hitting well and with Carl Crawford being so uncertain, Ross’s value is needed.
While there isn’t a firm timeline on Ross, the last I heard he hadn’t begun any running programs, thinking that his return will likely be mid-July. Scary to say but his injury is the same one Dustin Pedroia suffered in 2010 that required surgery and eventually the rest of the season.
EK: What is the state of the Red Sox rotation currently? How long is Daniel Bard going to be in the minors?
DS: The Red Sox rotation is still a mess despite Beckett showing promise and the amazing upstart in Felix Doubront. Aside from those two, Jon Lester looks lost on the mound, Clay Buchholz was a disaster before his last three starts meaning the verdict is still out on him and Daniel Bard flat out sucked and failed to transition to a starter. Dice-K returned this weekend but while he struck out 8 over 5.0 innings, it’s still too early given how inconsistently bad he can be. The Red Sox need pitching depth and a guy like Gavin Floyd from the White Sox would give them that. Even Matt Garza would solidify things, but both players will warrant a huge prospect filled return and I don’t think it’s worth it.
As far as Bard goes, he took his control struggles to triple-A when he started for Pawtucket on Friday night. The very first batter he faced he hit and continued to hit one more and give up two hits while allowing three runs, lasting just the one scheduled inning. His issues are deeper than mechanics and it’s scary to see how badly he’s messed up both in his delivery and his head. He belongs in the bullpen and while I’m convinced he’ll be back with the big club this season, if he can’t sort through things soon we may not see him until September.
EK: Can you give us a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers that the Marlins will face this series? Which match-up are you looking most forward to seeing?
DS: Monday night has Beckett up against Josh Johnson and this is the one I am most forward to seeing. When both pitchers are on, as they have been lately, this should be a low scoring game making the opportunity to cash in runners in scoring position a must. Beckett has been better lately as I eluded to up top and he’s been stingy on the mound, not allowing many runs in four of his last five starts. He changes up his pitches well and induces a lot of ground balls.
Tuesday could be another beauty the way Buchholz has been throwing lately allowing two earned runs or less in each start which included a complete game shutout in his last outing. He appears to have righted the ship on his early season struggles and has turned to the strikeout to bail him out of some jams. His fastball has been down and away which it was not doing when he was serving up batting practice for almost two months worth of starting and he needs that pitch in order to be effective.
The finale will see Felix Doubront take the mound for the Red Sox and aside from his last start where he got rocked, this kid has been unbelievable. He dropped over 20 pounds during the offseason and came to camp on a mission to make the rotation and he did just that. He strikes out a lot of batters but as a result builds up his pitch count and has trouble getting past the sixth inning. He has also been prone to struggle in the third inning, costing him pitches and putting stress on the offense to bail him out.
EK: What are your predictions for this series? Who will step up and have a big series for the Red Sox?
DS: I think the Red Sox take two of three (bias a little). Beckett and Doubront get the wins and look for Adrian Gonzalez to have a big series. He’s been hitting the ball hard lately which is a positive given his lack of power this season that has the media all over him.
EK (Bonus): How many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton hit this series?
DS: I’ll say two, one off Buchholz and one off Doubront.
A big thank you to Derek for taking his time out to chat it up here on Marlin Maniac. We both hope to do the same for you guys for when the Marlins and Red Sox square off next week.
There will not likely be a game preview up for tonight’s game, as I am running low on sleep and have to go to work early tomorrow and I am unsure of what time I will get home. My hope is to get home shortly before the game and get one up, if not, expect one for both Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.
Topics: Adrian Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Carl Crawford, Clay Buchholz, Cody Ross, Daniel Bard, Gavin Floyd, Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Jon Lester, Jose Iglesias, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, Marlon Byrd, Matt Garza, Miami Marlins, Mike Aviles, Scott Podsednik, Tampa Bay Rays, Xander Bogaerts