Series Preview: Chat with Michelle Hoag of Rox Pile


The Miami Marlins have now won 11 of their 14 last games after another successful series win against the Cleveland Indians. The Marlins were able to go 3-2 on their brief 5-game road trip to Atlanta and Cleveland. The Marlins own the best record in the month of May, sitting at 14-5.

The biggest reason for the Marlins success in May, their pitching, particularly their starting pitching. The Marlins pitching staff owns a 2.98 ERA in the month of May, with their starters ERA sitting at 2.85. The Marlins starters this month has posted a 3.5 WAR, according to Fangraphs. For more on the Marlins pitching and their hot start, here is some excellent analysis by Michael Jong of Fishstripes.

The Marlins will hope their hot starting pitching can carry them once again against a struggling Colorado Rockies team, as the team returns home. To preview this series, I had a nice chat with Michelle Hoag, the editor of Rox Pile, the Rockies Fansided site. Michellle and her staff do an excellent job of posting the best Rockies material on the internet.

Without any further delay, here is a look at our chat:

Ehsan: I am not hearing their names as much this season, but how are Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzski doing this season?

Michelle: Neither as well as they need to do in order for this team to compete. Cargo has been the best offensive player so far this season, though that’s not saying much. He leads the team with home runs (7) and RBI (30), and his average is among the highest (.296). But we need him hitting well over .300 and striking out less (he’s 2nd on the team with 30). As for Tulo, he’s underperfoming even more. He always struggles a little in the beginning, but combined with the overall lackluster attitude we’re seeing from this team, it’s more alarming than usual. If he doesn’t break out soon, it won’t matter what the rest of the team does in the second half.

Ehsan:How has the Rockies pitching fared this season?

Michelle: The pitching is terrible, particularly the rotation. I feared that it would be, primarily because we had so many candidates for the rotation going into spring training. It wasn’t because we had great pitchers coming out our ears. It was because we had so many pitchers that were unknown quantities, and most of them have disappointed. Jeremy Guthrie is pitching terribly at Coors Field, Jhoulys Chacin was so shaky in April that he was sent down to Triple A (which was shocking), and Drew Pomeranz is doing his own tour of duty there. Juan Nicasio has been impressive considering the fact that he broke his neck last summer, but not good enough to take on the ace role. Christian Friedrich, despite his excellent debut, struggled once he returned to Coors this weekend. Alex White is better than he was in 2011, but that’s not saying much. And Jamie Moyer, well, he’s old. Good, but old. I’d go on with the bullpen, but I think I’ve taken up enough of your time already.

Ehsan: Rockies have gotten have to a slow start so far this season. Is there one pin pointed reason? Can they rebound and salvage their season?

Michelle: The reason they’re off to a slow start is that they are playing terrible baseball. That’s the plain and simple truth. The pitchers are throwing too many wild pitches, issuing too many walks, giving up home runs with men on base. The hitters are grounding into double plays and getting caught stealing. The coaches seem clueless, but their jobs are secure, so why should they worry? It’s just a bad operation all around. The front office made a big stink in the offseason about holding people accountable, and they cleaned out the clubhouse to show they meant business. But there doesn’t seem to be any accountability for the top dogs, so until that’s the case I don’t see things changing. Somebody needs to light a fire under these guys, and Jim Tracy is holding a lot of soggy matches.

Ehsan: Can you talk us about the pitchers the Marlins expect to see this series?

Michelle: The Marlins are likely to see the middle of the rotation: Moyer, Nicasio, and White. Of these three, Moyer is the one most likely to get a win, because he’s the only guy who seems able to adjust when things aren’t going well. Nicasio is the one most likely to strike out 9 and still take the loss. And White had the best start of his career this past weekend, but recorded a loss because the offense was dead on arrival. So the test for him will be whether he can come back from a disappointment like that and still pitch well, and trust his team to do what they couldn’t his last time out. If he can do that, I’ll be grateful, if only because I won’t have to see that eyesore of a home run sculpture in motion.

Ehsan: What are your predictions for the series? Which Rockie player will have a big series? Which player will regress?

Michelle: Michael Cuddyer is due for an upswing. He came out really strong in the beginning of the season, hitting .299 in April with 12 RBI. But his May batting average is over a hundred points lower. He seems to be a fairly consistent player, so I think he’s just in a little slump, and that means he’ll probably come out of it soon. Hopefully Monday. I think Tyler Colvin could also have a big series, if Tracy allows him to play. He’s been extremely solid for us, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. But Dexter Fowler is still the starting center fielder until further notice, so it’s been tough for Colvin to get playing time. As for who will regress, like I said, I worry about White being demoralized by his last start. If anybody struggles more than usual, it’s likely to be him.

Ehsan: BONUS QUESTION-How many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton hit? 

Michelle: How many has he hit already? 8? I put him at 11 by the end of this series.