Miami Marlins NLDS: Pitching matchup gives some reason for hope

The Miami Marlins might thrive as underdogs, but facing the Atlanta Braves in the third game of a 2020 National League Divisional Series, they’ll have to prove that yet again in do-or-die fashion.

The Marlins and Braves meet at 2 p.m. Thursday in Game 3, with Atlanta already up two games in the best-of-five series. Right-hander Sixto Sanchez will take the mound for Miami. That, at least, gives some feeling of hope that this series is not over and done for.

Though the rookie does bring a 3.46 ERA into the game, including 3.26 at home, he fared a little worse in his games against the Braves.

They dinged him for four runs in nine innings across two regular-season starts. He struck out eight but walked five.

Atlanta Braves
2-0 NLDS
Miami Marlins
0-2 NLDS
Thursday, Oct. 8
2 p.m. ET

A quick look at Miami Marlins Game 3 starter Sixto Sanchez

Relying on a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and offspeed stuff in the 80s — mainly going to his changeup and slider — he kept batters off track pretty well for the year. Per Baseball Savant, his expected ERA ranked in the top 16 percent of pitchers this year, as batters struggled find hard-hit contact off him.

That does give Miami the advantage in starters though. Braves right-hander Kyle Wright had a 5.21 ERA in the regular season and went 2-4. In two games against the Marlins this season he gave up eight runs on nine hits in seven innings for a 10.29 ERA.

The big challenge in the first two games of the series has been keeping the ball in the yard. The Braves have five home runs, with Travis D’Arnauld and Dansby Swanson each driving two of them out and Robert Acuna knocking out the other.

Braves batters are slugging .523 in the series. Clearly, they are enjoying the neutral stadium bubble of Minute Maid Park in Houston a bit more.

Neither team had an opportunity to play there this year, with MLB limiting the teams to opponents in the same geographical location all year.

Miguel Rojas went yard for Miami in the opening game of the series, but the power has been lacking for the club beyond that moment, with just four extra-base hits in the series.