(Thanks to Ehsan, 5 Predictions will be a new piece I submit before every series throughout the year. Here I will make 5 logical (for the most part) predictions on the upcoming series. After, I will review my predictions and see how accurate they actually were. I would LOVE lots of comments and feedback through these pieces to see what my readers think!)
The moment is almost here, thank God. Wednesday, April 4th at 7:05 PM, Josh Johnson will throw the first “official” pitch in Marlins Park to start the season. Broadcasting live on ESPN, the newly formed Miami Marlins will get the first chance to capture publicity and respect from a nation wide audience against the defending World Series Champion, the St. Louis Cardinals. Like a die-hard nerd, Wednesday is the only matter on my mind, stopping me from getting other daily chores done. Today, like most series match-ups this season, I will make 5 predictions on the game.
1. Game #1 will be an important game in gaining respect/attention throughout the country.
–Lets face it…..throughout all the changes and new additions, we are still the Marlins. We still are multiple levels below the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers when it comes to publicity and recognition in the game of baseball. While 1 game cannot change this, it can go a hell of a long way towards changing the baseball nation’s opinion on the Miami Marlins. Expecting a great crowd, if the Marlins can go out and play a great ballgame, the stadium, home run structure, aquarium, and colorful surroundings will work their magic in drawing more national attention to the Miami Marlins. Coming out with a hot start will be very important. If we came out and lost by 7 runs while seeing fan’s leave before the game is over, the nation will buy into the theory that “we are still the same Marlin team of the past.”
2. Josh Johnson will pitch 6+ innings of solid baseball, recording 6 or more strikeouts.
– Josh Johnson, our loved ace, has gotten very familiar to hot starts throughout his career. I see no difference in 2012. Hyped with the new stadium, national audience, and first Major League game (in America) of the year, Josh Johnson will pitch 6+ innings of solid baseball while recording 6 or more strikeouts. Typically, your starters are given shorter pitch-counts and patience early into the season given the long season of baseball is waiting ahead. I cannot see JJ going 9 innings unless his pitch-count is super low or a no-hit bid is in place. Still, I believe JJ will bring his A-Game and put the Marlins in an excellent position to win when he exit’s the game.
3. Hanley Ramirez will show America that “he is back.”
-Who would have ever expected a line of .243/.333/.379 from Hanley Ramirez? Certainly not me, and I expect that many of you were surprised as well by Hanley’s disappointing 2011 season. After a sluggish year at the plate, bland effort in the field, and national critics all over his jock, the sky was supposed to fall for Hanley when the Marlins announced the signing of the new SS, Jose Reyes. Hanley could have easily given up his role of a team leader and move to the “complainer/whiny” superstar role. In fact, many highly regarded baseball officials believed this would be the exact case. Instead, Hanley graciously accepted his new position at 3B, hit .373 through Spring Training, and formed a literal “BFF Bond” with Jose Reyes, quite similar to Logan Morrison and Bryan Petersen minus the corny videos. Wednesday night is a big night for Hanley in the fact he has a chance to win the respect back from a lot of critics. I expect a great night from Hanley in the field and at the plate. I see him going 2-4 with signature homerun to say “Hey America, Hanley is back.”
4. Jose Reyes will not be the first of “The Big 3” to make his presence known
-I guess you can laugh at the nickname “The Big 3” that I, along with many others, have given to Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. Clearly Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh have lived up to “The Big 3” mark in Miami, but the Marlins feel like they did their job to bring in 3 all-stars as well. This is probably the boldest prediction of the piece, but one I feel confidet in making. While many people believe Jose Reyes, last years NL batting champ, will be the first to make his presence known, I will be the first to disagree. In no way am I saying Reyes will have a bad game either, I expect Reyes to fit right in and have a good game. However, like it or not, the Marlins did get “good” production last year from the lead-off spot. Finishing games seemed to be more of a problem, and this is where newcomer Heath Bell will make his presence known. In a close game, newly acquired all-star closer Heath Bell will enter the game and show the nation that the Marlins now have a shutdown closer. I expect Bell to enter in the 9th and record his first save of many to come. IN BELL WE TRUST!
5. After a toughly fought game, the Marlins will pull through for a 5–3 victory
-Okay, I know the Cardinals are a damn good team. They have the lineup, pitching staff, and bullpen to compete and be another serious contender. However, you do not just “get over” the loss of perhaps the best player in the game, Albert Pujols that easy. I believe Wednesday will be one of those slow, tough games that make you respect the game of baseball that much more. However, being a Marlin fan I am biased in the fact that I do not believe the Cardinals will score more than 1 run on Josh Johnson. After a great outing by JJ, I believe the Card’s will manage to get a couple of runs off the improving yet not fully ready bullpen. Still, with the excitement in the air, I believe Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Reyes will be too much to handle for the Cardinals in a 5-3 Marlin victory!