Series Preview: @Houston Astros

michaeljong
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After finishing up the season’s opening home stand, the Marlins take their game to the road. Our first opponent on the trip is the Houston Astros, a team mired in a difficult situation with a selling ownership and little talent at the major or minor league level. Houston opens its home season tonight with us as guests at Minute Maid Park.

Florida Marlins @ Houston Astros (1-5), April 8-10, Games 7-9

NL East Standings

TmWLWin%GB
PHI51.833
FLA33.7502.0
NYM33.6672.0
ATL34.3332.5
WSN24.3333.0

Stadium: Minute Maid Park
Five-year Run PF*: 0.98
Five-year HR PF*: 1.04
Stadium Dimensions:
Left Field: 315 ft.
Left-Center: 362
Deep Left-Center: 404
Center Field: 436
Right-Center: 373
Right Field: 326

*Five-year regressed park factors provided by Patriot here

Projected Pitching Matchups

April 5: Ricky Nolasco vs. Wandy Rodriguez
April 6: Javier Vazquez vs. Bud Norris
April 7: Anibal Sanchez vs. J.A. Happ

ZiPS In-Season Projections

Proj. FIPWin%MarlinsDateNationalsWin%Proj. FIP
3.40.589NolascoApril 8Rodriguez.5763.50
3.68.554VazquezApril 9Norris.5173.99
3.65.558SanchezApril 10Happ.4674.44

Projected Lineup

LineupPlayerCurrent wOBAProj. wOBA v. RHPProj. wOBA v. LHP
1Chris Coghlan.352.327
2Omar Infante.329.339
3Hanley Ramirez.392.410
4Gaby Sanchez.337.361
5Logan Morrison.368.343
6John Buck.316.342
7Donnie Murphy
.299.321
8Emilio Bonifacio.293.293

Notes

– This week’s live game chat has been moved to Sunday afternoon, starting a 2 pm to coincide with the series finale in Houston (link forthcoming). I would chat live tonight, but I have a social function to go to and I am likely to miss a good amount of the game sadly. I would have liked to work tomorrow night’s tilt, but there won’t be a TV broadcast for that game.

– Tonight’s game would have been a great target for a chat, as it pits two of the more interesting starters in the National League. Ricky Nolasco and Wandy Rodriguez are, in many ways, quite similar starters.

PlayerK%BB%ERAFIP*ERA-*FIP-
Nolasco21.05.54.433.9110491
Rodriguez19.98.34.214.0410095

*ERA- and FIP- are inventions of the good folks at FanGraphs. Essentially, they work the same way as ERA+, but with the opposite scale, meaning that the lower the ERA- / FIP-, the better the pitcher. Just like ERA+ over at Baseball-Reference, these numbers are park- and league-adjusted. You can read more about the stats here.

Both pitchers have underperformed their peripherals over the course of their career, and both have had pretty severe in-season gaps between their ERA and what the ERA retrodictors say about their performance. We all remember Nolasco’s gaping chasm between his ERA and FIP in 2009, but Rodriguez went through a similar problem in 2010; during the first half of the season, he had a 4.97 ERA to go along with a FIP more along the 4.20 to 4.30 range. He eventually evened that out with a stellar second half, bringing both numbers down to a solid 3.60 ERA and 3.50 FIP. We’ll see which starter gets the better of the other and prevails tonight.

– I did not put Mike Stanton on the lineup for the Fish because, as of right now, he is not scheduled to start for the team. The goal was to have him return tonight but it seems he will not be in a starting role tonight, so we will get another night of Emilio Bonifacio.

– Speaking of Bonifacio, why has Edwin Rodriguez gone to him instead of Scott Cousins? I implore you, Edgar, don’t make the same mistake Fredi Gonzalez made. Don’t fall for the allure of Boni’s speed; he can’t use it if he can’t get on first base. Cousins is likely the superior defender in right field, and their bats are at worst similar. Go with the right choice, please.

– Over at The Crawfish Boxes, native_astro ponders some of the tough questions as the dreary 2011 season continues for the Astros.

– At FanSided’s own Climbing Tal’s Hill (one of my favorite FanSided blog names, by the way), Brandon Croce asks the CTH staff a bunch of questions in a good old fashioned roundtable.

Bold Prediction: Marlins take three of three games.

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