Fish Cap: Marlins perform decently in controversial Phillies series


When the season is going as badly as it has been for the Marlins, you take any sort of solace you can get. Thanks to that awful June slump, the Fish are out of the playoff hunt and are merely playing the season out to test out the pieces they have and remain respectable along the way. That’s why, despite an ugly 14-2 loss that included its fair share of controversy, I claim that the Marlins did not play terribly in this series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Sure, it could have been much better, but the team could afford to take some baby steps back towards respectability after last month.

Series Hero: Ricky Nolasco (0.218 WPA)
Series Goat: Chris Volstad (-0.337 WPA)
Impressed by: Ricky Nolasco (7 IP, 1 R, 4 K, 2 BB, 0 HR)
Depressed by: Anibal Sanchez (4 IP, 6 R, 6 K, 3 BB, 2 HR)

Sanchez struggles again

Anibal Sanchez had his second straight uncharacteristic start of the season, allowing two long balls in last night’s dramatic victory over the Phillies. His performance did not help the cause; indeed, Sanchez’s six runs allowed cost the Marlins more than 30 percent of their chances of winning. However, despite the obvious struggles in terms of runs, his stuff was as strong as ever. He still forced 11 whiffs in his 82 total pitches despite the problems with hits and homers. However, only two of those were outside the zone, as the Phillies were not biting on Sanchez’s outside offerings and forcing him to throw strikes. You can see from the following chart that when Sanchez got beat, it was where you would naturally expect a pitcher to get hit hard.

The locations of four of his six hits were in the dead center of the zone or close to it, a hittable area. Indeed, he allowed quite a few balls in play that went for outs but were still struck from the middle of the strike zone. Sanchez allowed four line drives and three fly balls, representing that his batted balls were well-struck as well. Again, the strikeouts show that his stuff was still prevalent, but his location this time around in the order was off, and it cost him. Do not worry, as he should recover easily.

Mike Stanton walking off

You may have seen this home run by Mike Stanton recently, but it’s always worth watching again, because honestly, all Stanton homers are worth a second or third look. The homer was a laser shot out to left field above the scoreboard formerly known as the Teal Monster, and it got out quite quickly. The blast carried the Marlins to a 7-6 victory and added the remaining 0.419 WPA for the Marlins to earn the win. Oddly enough, this only pulled Stanton up to 0.097 WPA for the game, as he had struggled to get anything going before that moment. Prior to the game-winning homer, Stanton had collected a 0-for-4 night with two strikeouts. Included in the previously ugly performance was a critical blown opportunity for runs, as he grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning with the bases loaded. That play itself ate 23.6 percent of the Marlins’ odds of winning.

Just as interesting as Stanton’s game-winning homer was what followed, which was a celebratory attack on Stanton by four of his teammates in an attempt to douse him all sorts of drinks and/or shaving cream. Of course, this only brought memories of Chris Coghlan and his season’s demise last year when he tore his meniscus after pie-ing Wes Helms after a walkoff victory. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post was not a fan of the celebration (H/T Big League Stew), citing Coghlan’s injury as a good reason to avoid these sorts of things. Strip Club With Stanton, writing now for ESPN SweetSpot blog Marlins Daily, approved of the foolhardy fun.

I’m somewhere in between. I love celebrations, and I love seeing more of them. However, I hate celebrations that are needlessly wreckless, because they can occasionally ruin a career. For example, we have yet to see Kendry Morales of the Los Angeles Angels get back on the field after suffering a broken leg at the hands of a team celebration. So no, I’d prefer that Stanton not try to wriggle himself out of being dumped with Gatoride, just like I’d rather not see Hanley Ramirez try too hard to get that Gatorade on the guy. A bad plant and twist here or there and we could be talking about how good a player could have been had he not been hurt.

The Brian Sanches situation

Here’s something I didn’t particularly care about that friend of the Maniac and Sun-Sentinel beat writer Juan C. Rodriguez did care about.

"It happens a few times a year. A taxed bullpen needs a break and a manager is compelled to leave a starter or reliever out there longer than usual even though he’s getting throttled. In baseball parlance, the selfless act is referred to as “wearing it.”Brian Sanches wore it in the ninth inning Tuesday. It took him 38 pitches to record the final three of the nine outs he recorded. He’d held the Phillies scoreless in the seventh and eighth, totaling 40 pitches in the two innings. Selfless act? yes. Necessary? No."

Sanches “wore it” and took a heavy beating as part of that 14-2 shellacking on Tuesday evening, but I am not particularly sympathetic to his case. Manager Jack McKeon probably wanted to keep Burke Badenhop ready to pitch a long outing for Brad Hand‘s start given Hand’s ineffectiveness lately, so it is understandable to leave Sanches a few more pitches to try and get the last few outs. Sanches threw 79 pitches, which is quite a lot for a guy who was used to relief work. But he has also been receiving spot starts for the team regularly since Josh Johnson went on the disabled list, so he should be able to handle to the increased work load.

Sure, you do not want to injure your pitchers as part of a 14-2 rout. That’s part of the reason why Sanches perhaps should have been pulled. At the same time, you expect a guy who is supposedly your “long man” to be able to finish off an inning in relief for you in any situation, blowout or otherwise. Perhaps they could have thrown out a position player, but apparently McKeon (stupidly) thinks that’s “embarassing.” Again, I’m somewhere in between on this topic as well.