Miami Marlins Game Preview: Game 22 vs. New York Mets

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If you are fortunate enough to be near a television set tonight, you might be best served to have the New York Mets-Miami Marlins matchup playing on that TV, because Bartolo Colon is pitching and the Marlins have been playing a pretty decent brand of baseball recently. Bartolo Colon is the best; I don’t care if he pitches for one of the Marlins’ biggest rivals. Any time he takes the mound–or especially when he steps into the batters box–it’s must-see TV, and you kind of find yourself rooting for the 41-year-old, even if his success might come at the expense of the Fish.

Tonight’s rubber match gives the Marlins their first chance at winning a series against the Mets in 2015. Last weekend in Flushing, the Mets swept the Fish in a four-game set and it seemed like the sky was falling.

The Mets came storming out of the gates this season, and currently sit atop the National League East with a 15-6 record. The Mets arrived in Miami on Monday and promptly took game one of this three-game set, a game which was on pace to be the fastest nine-inning game in Marlins history, after Jarred Cosart shut the visitors out over eight brilliant innings, before Daniel Murphy blasted a three-run game-winner off Steve Cishek in the ninth.

The Mets looked unbeatable. But the Marlins (9-12) finally got the best of them last night in a 4-3 win thanks to Michael Morse‘s late inning heroics and a quality start from rotation placeholder David Phelps.

The Marlins are 1-6 against the Mets this season and, sample size be damned, tonight’s contest almost feels like a must-win. The Marlins are playing better baseball though, and that comes conveniently at a time when Christian Yelich and Henderson Alvarez are on the disabled list, and while J.T. Realmuto is shouldering the load as starting catcher despite probably still needing a bit more minor league seasoning.

But yes, it’s still only April. The “powerhouse” Washington Nationals are in last place (8-13), and are relying on guys like Dan Uggla to win ballgames for them. In the long run, these things will balance out and the Mets won’t dominate the division, but the Marlins also can’t start 1-7 against a team they will see 11 more times before season’s end.

Mike Redmond presents this lineup tonight:

Dee Gordon, 2B
Martin Prado, 3B
Giancarlo Stanton, RF
Marcell Ozuna, CF
Michael Morse, 1B
J.T. Realmuto, C
Ichiro Suzuki, LF
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Mat Latos, P

Tonight’s pitching matchup:

Bartolo Colon (4-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (0-3, 7.31 ERA)

Latos has steadily improved with each start since the hilarious crash-and-burn that was his season debut against the Atlanta Braves. His last time out, Latos went 6.1 innings of two-run, six-hit ball against the Nationals. In fact, after giving up seven runs in less than an inning in his Marlins debut, Latos has allowed two runs in each of his three starts, improving by an inning pitched each time. The Marlins would love that trend to continue so they could get seven innings and just two runs out of Latos tonight.

Colon has been marvelous this year, and owns a 2.99 FIP and 0.885 WHIP in his four starts, to go along with a 8.0 K/9. Against the Marlins on April 17, Bartolo tossed seven innings and allowed one earned run while striking out seven. The Mets won that game 4-1.

Giancarlo Stanton smashed a home run off Colon in that game, and would love to do the same tonight. Two of StnatonStanton’s five homers this season have come off Mets pitchers, and just one of his longballs have come at Marlins Park. So he is overdue for another #StantonSmash tonight.

Follow Marlin Maniac on Twitter @MarlinManiac for all your Miami Marlins news, opinion and analysis!

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