The San Francisco Giants start a 3 game series down in Miami this evening. After losing the first 2 to Washington, Hector Sanchez has given the boys by the bay a chance at a winning road trip. But we all remember the Marlins and how they handled the Giants back in July at AT&T Park.
I got together with Ehsan Kassim over at Marlin Maniac to check in on the Marlins and see how they are different since the last time these teams got together. Brandon Belt is red hot, hitting .375 over his last 11 games with 4 home runs and 11 runs scored. Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey showed signs of life with the bat in Washington. If they keep it up, the Giants should be able to handle the Marlins for at least 2 of 3 games.
Ok, I typed enough. Here’s my chat with Ehsan so he can catch us up on the Miami Marlins.
Eric Nathanson: The Marlins just took 2 of 3 from a red hot Royals team that hadn’t lost a series since the All Star Break. Is this a sign of good things to come for Miami?
Ehsan Kassim: The series win was exactly what the Marlins have been about since the beginning of June. They feature a strong pitching rotation, that hardly ever gets any run support. Due to a terrible offense, the Marlins will not have much consistency in 2013, and continue to have some impressive series like they did against the Royals and others like they did against the Pirates earlier on the road trip.
EN: The Marlins took 3 of 4 from the Giants at AT&T a couple of months ago, what changes have been made to the team since then?
EK: Since the Marlins last played the Giants, plenty of things have happened to the Marlins roster. Ricky Nolasco was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Marcell Ozuna is out for the season with a thumb injury, and Rob Brantly was demoted from being the Marlins number 5 hitter to the minor leagues due to his hitting struggles. Also, Tino Martinez has been let go due to his own hitting woes. (pun intended)
EN: We’ve all heard of Giancarlo Stanton, who’s another position player that could hurt the Giants this weekend?
EK:Christian Yelich and Logan Morrison are two other position players that could have a major impact on the series. Yelich, the Marlins top position prospect heading into the season, has always been known for his beautiful lefty stroke throughout his rise through the minors. He has flashed some of his future batting title potential early on, slashing a .286/.337/.374 line early on.
Someone Giants fans are probably more familiar with is LoMo. Morrison has been hitting well as of later, as he owns a .276/.366/.435 slash line. LoMo has started to establish himself as a decent first baseman as he is finally getting healthy. He currently bats behind Stanton in the lineup and often takes advantage of the opposing pitching deciding to pitch around Stanton.
EN: Jose Fernandez has been lights out and was the Marlins only All Star. The Giants won’t see him, but is he the ace of the future in Miami? Will the Marlins follow trend and shut him down early?
EK: Barring any injuries or anything catastrophic, Fernandez is going to be the Marlins future ace for the foreseeable future. Marlins fans obviously had high expectations for Fernandez coming into the season, but he has exceeded those expectations amazingly. I may be a little biased, but I believe Fernandez should be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year right now.
The Marlins still do plan on shutting down Fernandez at around 160-170 innings. He is one out short of 140 innings on the season, so you have to figure he has two to five starts left in him for the 2013 season. I love the cautious approach by the Marlins, as Jose is just 21 and there is no reason for him to be throwing 200+ innings this season.
EN: Does anybody in Miami actually like the new ballpark? Or has it become an albatross to the fanbase?EK: I think the design of Marlins Park and it’s facility has been a big home run. Loria did an excellent job with the stadium, truly making it out to be one of the state of the art ballparks currently in baseball. I have been there once and it was an excellent experience for me. The ballpark all around screams “Miami” and it is one thing Marlins fans will give credit to Loria for doing correctly.
The reason the park is empty on a nightly basis, that is another can of worms I don’t want to get into involving owner Jeffery Loria.
EN: What can the Giants expect to see from the Marlins starters?
EK: Nathan Eovladi will go tonight for the Marlins. He is coming off his best start of the season, when he shutout the Braves impressive offense and allowed just one hit. Eovaldi also tied a career high with eight strikeouts. He features a strong fastball, one that averages 96+ MPH a game. His secondary pitches need to be going well for him to be effective as well.
Henderson Alvarez will be on the mound Saturday. Alvarez has pitched fairly well against lineups that are not the Braves. He owns a 3.18 ERA and a 2.94 FIP on the season, but has been fairly lucky with the amount of home runs he has allowed in 2013. Alvarez won’t strikeout a ton of hitters, but he also has impressive control and doesn’t walk many hitters.
Tom Koehler will pitch the finale, as Giants fans should remember him from his start in San Francisco. In his start earlier this season against the Giants, Koehler no-hit the Giants lineup through the first six innings, and ended up pitching seven three hit innings, allowing just one earned run.
EN: Prediction for the series?
EK: You know what, I feel confident that Giancarlo Stanton will have a huge series and that the Marlins pitching will come through like they usually do. I will pick the Marlins to win the first two games of the series.