Fish-Cap: Marlins win shutout duel against Nationals
By Michael Jong
Over the weekend, the Marlins participated in three shutouts against the Washington Nationals. It’s a shame that we did not end up on the winning side of all three, but I think the Fish will gladly take two of three shutouts and win the series over the Nats. Let’s take a look at some interesting points in the series.
Series Hero: Josh Johnson (0.353 WPA)
Series Goat: Chris Coghlan (-0.177 WPA)
Impressed By: Alejandro Sanabia (5 1/3 IP, 0 R, 5 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 0 H)
Depressed By: Ricky Nolasco (5 1/3 IP, 4 R, 8 K, 1 BB, 0 HR, 7 H)
Hard Luck Nolasco
Ricky once again got a bad beat in this series. Not only did he have to contend with the very good Stephen Strasburg, but he also had to deal with poor timing on the part of his hits allowed. Three of Nolasco’s hits allowed came with runners on, including the lone extra base hit he allowed to Josh Willingham that drove in multiple runners and ended Nolasco’s evening. The rest of his game was stellar; he racked up eight strikeouts in classic 2009 Nolasco fashion, only surrendering one walk in the process (a walk to Adam Dunn that loaded the bases in the sixth).
I remarked on Twitter that the more I watch and listen to Nolasco, the more I fear that there is something inherent in his poor pitching with runners on. He gets significantly fewer strikeouts and walks a lot more hitters. The only good thing, it would seem, is that for his career, he has actually allowed fewer home runs with men on than with the bases empty. From my research from last season, it did seem as if Nolasco was nibbling more when he faced batters with runners on, which could be leading to the increased walks and perhaps the fewer homers as well (less aggressive pitching leading to fewer mistakes, perhaps?). This is something to keep an eye on at season’s end.
I was quite vocal about the demotion of Chris Volstad from the rotation. He had being doing nothing wrong and looked better than he did last year, but for some reason the organization sent him down. In his place stepped Sanabia, who looked good in yesterday’s game versus the Nats. Five strikeouts with only two walks and no homers allowed is a recipe for success, even if the success is surprising. According to Pitch f/x data, Sanabia averaged just 88-89 MPH on his fastballs, with a high of 92. He accompanied that with an average 84 MPH slider and an 83 MPH changeup. The stuff certainly didn’t sound impressive
He certainly did not pound the strike zone during the game, only getting 58% of his pitches inside the strike zone. He did, however, get the batters to whiff, inducing eight swinging strikes with three of them out of the zone. Despite middling stuff, he was able to fool hitters, particularly with his changeup, with which he got five whiffs. He certainly bought himself another start with this performance, but I do not know how much longer he will last on the team. There is word that the Marlins are likely to call up lefty Sean West and Volstad is also unlikely to remain in the minors for too long. We’ll see what we can get from Sanabia in his next start.