The Phillies will be looking to put the unfortunate series against the Brewers behind them as they begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. The Marlins are coming off a poor series of their own, as they just dropped three straight games to the Washington Nationals.
To prepare for the series, I got together with Chris Logel, the editor of Marlin Maniac – FanSided’s source for all things related to the Marlins – and asked him some questions about the state of the Fish:
The Marlins have been improved offensively in 2014. What’s the main factor behind the improvement?
Prior to the series with the Nationals, the Marlins had been experiencing some very clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. Regression was likely to come as we saw in the most recent series. I think this team is better offensively than many people think, but nowhere near where the level they were playing at. They have had a few players get off to hot starts (Giancarlo Stanton, Casey McGehee, and Adeiny Hechavarria to name a few) and that has helped their run differential immensely.
The Marlins’ big offseason acquisition was Jarrod Saltalamacchia. What kind of impact has he had thus far?
Since the Marlins acquired “Salty” he seems to have loosened everyone up, from the clubhouse all the way to the front office. He even convinced the Marlins to relax their policy regarding facial hair. He has kept things light, but focused and has provided the Marlins with a leader. He has a ring to prove that he knows what it takes for the Marlins to win a World Series, and the young players seem to be listening.
With lefthanders Chase Utley and Ryan Howard as the big names in the lineup, the Phillies have faced a lot of lefty bullpen specialists over the last few seasons. Who are the Marlins’ top relief options and how well do you think they will fare against the Phillies’ big bats in late game situations?
The Marlins bullpen got off to a hot start in 2014, and then gave up grand slams on back-to-back days against Washington. Mike Dunn has been considered the Marlins top lefty reliever, but has really struggled early on. Normally lights-out against lefties, Dunn has had a hard time locating his pitches and has paid for it to a tune of a 7.36 ERA. Dan Jennings is the other Marlins reliever that the Nationals are likely to face. He is an early relief option that shouldn’t scare the big-time bats of the [Phillies] very much.
As he enters his arbitration years, Giancarlo Stanton will start getting very expensive in the next few years. How confident are you that he’ll remain a Marlin in the long-term?
The Stanton as a long-term Marlin roller coaster currently is riding a high. Stanton came into camp happy and healthy, saying all the right things that would lead people to believe that he wants to re-sign with the Marlins. It appeared that he approved of some of the moves management made in the offseason and he has been saying that he wants to commit to an organization that is focused on winning. That being said, Miami still has not offered him a contract, which probably means they are drooling at the thought of how many prospects he could bring in return. I would say that there is currently a 25% chance that Stanton signs with the Marlins long-term, and I am probably being generous.
Can you provide a preview of the Marlins starting pitchers for the series?
Jose Fernandez- The best player the Marlins have. For those predicting a sophomore slump, they are currently eating those words. He has been lights out, rolling to a 2-0 record with an ERA of 0.71. If anyone can single-handedly break
the Marlins current four-game skid, it is him. His fastball is lively and his curve – or “defector” as we like to call it – just isn’t fair. It will be a tough task for the Phillies to defeat him. Their saving grace is that he is slightly worse on the road than at home. If this game was in Marlins Park, forget about it.
Nathan Eovaldi- Eovaldi is turning himself into a solid number 2 pitcher in the rotation. His calling card has always been his fastball, which averaged the highest speed out of all starters in MLB last year. This year he has begun to use his off speed stuff and has been able to keep people guessing with a solid change-up and serviceable breaking ball. His strikeout totals have run up to 14 so far this season and barring injury, he should be a lock to surpass the 200 mark on the year. His weakness would be the home run ball.
Henderson Alvarez- “The Enigma” as I have taken to calling him, since you never know what you are going to get from him. When Alvarez is on, he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball, when he is not, it can be brutal. They key for Alvarez is keeping his pitches low in the zone and inducing ground balls, something that he has not done so far this year. He has a wide variety of pitches, but doesn’t always have confidence in them, causing him to rely too much on his fastball. This game is certainly the Phillies best chance at defeating the Fish.
Tweet of Importance
Phillies have the worst record in the NL. Maybe this is what the Marlins need.
— Shaquille Jackson (@SJHangtime4) April 11, 2014
It’s come to this: The Phillies are now a team that slumping teams look forward to facing.