After taking just one of three against the San Francisco Giants, the Miami Marlins will continue their 10-game homestand with a four game series against the hottest team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their 42-8 run over their past 50 games is impressive, but not for the residents of Miami, as they saw the Heat run off a 43-7 stretch over 50 games this past NBA season.
Yasiel Puig vs Jose Fernandez. That is the matchup I believe most baseball fans are looking forward to in the upcoming Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins series that begins tonight. Another fun matchup for both sides will be Nathan Eovaldi vs. Hanley Ramirez, as the two were traded for each other just last season.
To preview the series between the red-hot Dodgers and Marlins, I had an email chat with Scott Andes, one of the co-editors at the Los Angeles Fansided Site, Lasorda’s Lair. Scott and I chatted about everything from how the Dodgers turned from disappointments to baseball hottest team to the impact Puig has had on the Dodgers recent hot run.
Without any further ado, here is my chat with Scott:
Ehsan Kassim: The Dodgers went from an underachieving team to one of the hottest in baseball history. What clicked for them to put this run together?
Scott Andes: I think it was many different things to click all at once. Healthy players are a big reason. The emergence of Yasiel Puig, was a huge difference maker. Hanley’s bat in the lineup was another. Getting those impact bats into the lineup certainly was a huge boost to what is a solid lineup. Th pitching has been excellent. An overall improvement in the bullpen. Not using the awful Brandon League in any games with a lead. Making the dominant Kenley Jansen the closer. But also after everything came together they discovered their momentum. Momentum is a huge thing in Baseball, and the Dodgers were able to cultivate some great team chemistry throughout the run. All of the guys know each other very well, and they never give up in games.
EK: What has been the most fascinating thing about Puig to watch since his callup? How excited are you to see the Fernandez-Puig matchup?
SA: I’m pretty excited to watch a good matchup of young players of course of course. But the most fascinating thing about Puig, is how far he stands off the plate. I’m amazed at how he’s able to reach some of the outside pitches, but his plate discipline has been improving by ten fold. He’s learning the game, and making the necessary adjustments. He’s a bit too aggressive sometimes, misses cut-off throws, has trouble reading pitcher’s moves on the base paths, but he’s only 22 years old and has a lot to learn about the game. But he’s learning, and will in time.
EK: Puig has gotten most of the national attention, but what has former Marlin Hanley Ramirez meant for the Dodgers in their run?
SA: Hanley’s bat has really meant everything to the Dodgers. It wasn’t surprising that they struggled to score runs without him. What he’s meant to the team is that his bat is so impact, that the Dodgers simply can’t win without him in the lineup. About four years ago, Hanley was one of the best hitters in Baseball, and the way he has hit during the run, he’s back to where he was in his 2009 days, when he won a batting tittle with the Marlins.
EK: How is Matt Kemp doing in rehab and when can we expect to see him back in action?
SA: Matt Kemp is still recovering from his busted ankle, and he wont return until September at the earliest. What the Dodgers didn’t want to tell everyone, is that Kemp tore something in his ankle, and it was a lot worse than they let on. If Kemp is back before mid September I would be shocked. unfortunately this year really has been just a wash for him. I have doubts that he can stay healthy for an entire anymore. I’ve seen this happen with players before. Once they open the injury door, their bodies weaken from all of the treatments and cortisone shots. But if we can get him back for the playoffs, then the Dodgers may be unstoppable with a healthy productive Matt Kemp back in their lineup.
EK: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins face this series?
SA: Well its a four game series, so we should see everyone, but It should be interesting to see Hanley and Nolasco’s home-coming, (although Nolasco wont pitch in the series) and getting to face former Dodger Nathan Eovaldi. Ryu pitches the first game, and he has been solid as a rock for the Dodgers. The thing about Ryu is he’s very tough with men on base. Capuano either pitches a shutout, or allows five runs, there is no in between with him. Greinke has been very solid,but pitches better at home. and Kershaw’s domination against all opponents should result in an easy win.
EK: Any bold predictions for the series?
SA: I would think the Dodgers should win all four games, but three out of four seems reasonable. Watch out for the Dodger’s top ranked road hitting. (The Dodgers are the best road hitting team in the majors). Watch out for Nick Punto, who has been hot of late when he filled in for Hanley. Ethier has been heating up as well. The Dodgers get a lot of hits up the middle or to center field, and they have trouble running the bases and reading pitcher’s moves. Their pitching is generally excellent, but the defense can be sloppy at times. I’ll predict three out of four for the first place Dodgers.
A big thank you to ___ for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Dodgers fans the best of luck for the upcoming of the series. If you get a chance, do check out some of the great content over on Lasorda’s Lair.
My bold prediction for the series: The Miami Marlins take the first two games, behind strong pitching performances from Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner. The Dodgers win the final two to salvage a series split.