April 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) at bat in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
As many experts around baseball predicted the case to be, the Miami Marlins are sitting in the cellar of the competitive National League East. The team just concluded a six-game road trip to start the season. The Marlins got swept away by the Washington Nationals and dropped two to the New York Mets, both games in which the Marlins held a lead in the sixth or later.
Despite the ugly start, the Marlins starters have boasted a beautiful 2.48 ERA thus far. The team’s FIP is at an uglier 4.07, but that is not bad for a rotation featuring a couple of journeymen, Nolasco as an ace, and a pitcher that has never pitched above Single-A. In fact, the most encouraging thing for the Marlins so far is the impressive debut by rookie sensation Jose Fernandez.
The Atlanta Braves on the other hand come in on fire against the Marlins. The Braves have won five of their six games this season, including a fresh sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Despite injuries to catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Freddie Freeman, the Braves offense has been on a torrid pace, led by their prize offseason acquisition, in Justin Upton.
Atlanta Braves (5-1) @ Miami Marlins (1-5), April 8-10, Games 7-9
NL East Standings
Stadium: Marlins Park
Five-year Run PF*: N/A
Five-year HR PF*: N/A
Left field line—340 ft.
Left-center field—384 ft.
Center field—416 ft.
Right-center field—392 ft.
Right field line—335 ft.
*Five-year regressed park factors provided by Patriot here
Projected Pitching Matchups
2013 Season Statistics
Apr 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Paul Maholm (28) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Monday, April 8 – Paul Maholm vs. Kevin Slowey:
Kevin Slowey will take the mound for the Marlins for his second start of the season. While he enjoyed a decent start against the Nationals strong lineup, there are things that popped up that he needs to work on. His four strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings last Wednesday were impressive, but the team would love him to lower his walks (3) from his last start. Slowey is not going to overpower his opposition, but he throws a ton of strikes and needs to nibble at the corners in order to be successful. The Marlins hope he can go 6 innings or more in this start.
Paul Maholm will be making his second start with the Braves. He made quite the impression in his Braves debut, lasting 5 1/3 innings, striking out six hitters and walking just one. He owns a career 4.24 ERA, but has always been a pitcher that intrigues me. The key to Maholm’s success has always been his control. He won’t blow away any hitters, but can be deceptive with his pitches.
Tuesday, April 9 – Kris Medlen vs. Wade LeBlanc:
Wade LeBlanc is in his second season with the team and after positing back-to-back impressive spring trainings and a strong showing out of the pen in 2012, he has finally earned a spot in the Marlins rotation. LeBlanc had a solid 2013 debut, pitching in the finale of the Nationals series. He worked 5 strong innings, striking out five hitters, while just walking two. Wade did allow 5 base hits, but did a good job of working out of jams.
Kris Medlen, the big surprise for the 2013 Braves. In 138 innings last season, Medlen finished with a 1.57 ERA and a 2.42 FIP. He struck out 120 hitters in those 138 innings, while just walking 23. In his first start this season, Medlen labored through the start, going just five innings. He tossed 92 pitches, giving up two runs, walking four, striking out three, and allowing six hits. He clearly did not have his best stuff and will look to rebound against the Marlins on Tuesday.
Wednesday, April 10 – Mike Minor vs. Alex Sanabia:
Alex Sanabia pitched to mixed results in his season debut and first start in the majors since 2011. Sanabia did not allow a run, but only struck out one hitter in his six innings of work. Sanabia allowed nine base runners in his innings, including six hits and three walks. He allowed at least one base runner each inning of work. Sanabia was constantly pitching out of trouble against a weak Mets lineup, if he does the same with the Braves, they will put a lot of runs on the board in a hurry.
Mike Minor is making the start in the finale for the Braves. Minor is a left handed pitcher that has seemed to improve each season he has been in the big leagues. Minor was a strikeout artist in the minors and is starting to put that together in the majors. In his first start of the season against the Cubs, Minor pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits. He struck out seven hitters and walked none. If he can maintain that sort of control, he could have a huge game against the Fish.
On paper, like the Nationals series, the Braves completely blow away the Marlins. But the beauty of the sport, anything can happen. Let’s hope the Marlins can steal a game or two at home. Check out my chat with editor Jeff Schafer of Tomahawk Take to further preview this series.
May 12-14: vs Philadelphia Phillies
May 15-17: vs Washington Nationals
May 18-21: @ Cincinnati Reds