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Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Miami Marlins

Can’t lose three games if you only play two *taps forehead*

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hey so that last series wasn’t so fun. It started out nicely and ultimately ended in ruin. And of course, because the Indians were playing the Braves, there were plenty of highlights from the 1995 World Series. Now, the Marlins come to town for a couple of games, so expect the same with the 1997 World Series.

But it’s not 1997, it’s 2019. So what do the Marlins look like this season?

Team in a box

2019 Miami Marlins

Record 6-16
Record 6-16
Runs Scored 60
Runs Allowed 107
Run Differential -47
Streak L1
AVG .215
OBP .280
SLG .326
OPS .606
wRC+ 66
K/9 9.45
BB/9 3.41

The tale of the Marlins in 2019 is a simple one: average pitching coupled with terrible offense. Miami has a few players who can swing it, but most of them are off to dreadful starts to the season, causing their lineup to be unbalanced (hmm, that sounds familiar). Their starting rotation has been good too, but many of them have run into some bad luck to start the year (with the exception of Caleb Smith, who’s been downright outstanding. Thankfully, the Indians won’t see him in this series). But at the end of the day, the Marlins are 6-16 and are currently the worst team in baseball. Two of their six wins came in their most recent series against the Nationals, which game them their first series win of the season.

Projected starters

Tuesday, April 23 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Pablo López (v. Carlos Carrasco)

Pablo López got his first taste of the majors last season with the Marlins and it was a rough start. 2019 hasn’t proved to be any kinder to the young flamethrower. Across his 20.0 innings of work so far in 2019, López has allowed 13 earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 23 (ERA+ 68). He’s got a good fourseam (95 mph) that can sink, a curve (80 mph) that is good at inducing flyballs, and a change (86 mph) that gets hitters to either ground out or whiff thanks to its diving action. He’s also got an actual sinker (93 mph) that he can mix in with his other fastball. He’s usually great for the first time through the order (opponents have a .143/.167/.171 slash against him). However, once the lineup turns over, he crumbles. Second (.406/.444/.594) and third times (.429/.467/.571) through the order have not been kind to López this season. His most recent start came on April 16 against the Chicago Cubs; in that game, López went 5.0 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 6.

Wednesday, April 24 1:10 p.m. ET: RHP Sandy Alcántara (v. TBD)

Sandy Alcántara is another young pitcher for the Marlins who will be in his first full season this year. Alcántara came over from the Cardinals in 2017 as a part of the Marcell Ozuna trade; across two seasons coming into 2019, Alcántara had only pitched in 42.1 major league innings. This season, he’s thrown 23.0 innings and allowed 13 earned runs while walking 8 and striking out 19 (ERA+ 78). His main pitch is his slider (86 mph) that gets ground balls thanks to its vertical and horizontal movement. He’s also got an incredibly fast sinker (96 mph) that he pairs with his equally impressive fourseam fastball (96 mph); both pitches have depth and sink to them. His arsenal is rounded out with a fast changeup (89 mph) that creates flyballs. Despite his early season struggles, there’s a good contingency of Marlin fans who think he can be their ace. His most recent start came on April 17 against the Chicago Cubs; in that game, Alcántara went 6.0 innings and allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7.

Lineup highlights

  • C Jorge Alfaro: Alfaro split time behind the dish with Wilson Ramos and Andrew Knapp in Philadelphia last season. This year, he’s the primary backstop for the Marlins and he’s their best regular hitter so far on the young season. In 57 plate appearances, Alfaro is slashing .283/.333/.453 (wRC+ 113). He’s got some pop in his bat, but he also has some large holes too, as evidenced by his strikeout rate of 40.4%. In contrast, he’s only walking 1.8% of the time.
  • SS Miguel Rojas: Miguel Rojas is off to a good (not great) start this season, and he’s doing it thanks to his newfound plate discipline. He’s walking more (7.5% compared to 6.1% career) and he’s striking out less (6.0% compared to 12.3% career). His enhanced patience at the plate has rewarded him with a .300/.358/.400 slash (wRC+ 107) to start the season. He’s not a world beater by any means, but he’s producing above-average offense to compensate for his slightly below-average defense at a premiere position. I’m sure the Marlins will take it, seeing as how Rojas has been a good defender at short for the past two seasons.
  • 1B/3B Martin Prado: Martin Prado is in his 14th major league season, and he’s producing almost exactly at the level you would expect him to based on his career numbers. He’s walking close to his career numbers (6.5% v. 6.7% career) and he’s striking out close to his career numbers (10.9% v. 11.3% career). All told, he’s slashing .326/.370/.395 (wRC+ 111), which is very similar to his .290/.338/.417 career mark. He’s a good, not great, hitter who can be a veteran leader on a team filled with a lot of youth. He’s in the final year of his 3-year deal with the Marlins.


How will the bullpen do?

The bullpen crashed and burned pretty hard in the series against the Braves. It was disappointing, but not necessarily shocking for a lot of folks who had been waiting for the shoe to drop since the season began. The bullpen’s true talent probably lies somewhere between what we had seen all season leading up to the Atlanta series (which was great) and what they showed during that series (a dumpster fire). But for the bullpen to succeed, Tito is going to need to widen his circle of trust to more than just Brad Hand.

The Jason Kipnis show

If you’ve followed my writing at any point on LGT, you may be aware that Jason Kipnis is my favorite player on the Indians. He’s been my favorite since I started religiously following the team in 2012 and not much has changed. It’s been a deflating couple of seasons for us Kip fans, but 2019 is looking like it may be the year where our resident dirtbag isn’t hampered by injuries and can be the productive player we love. He’s off to a hot start this season after missing the first few weeks with an injury; in 22 plate appearances, he’s slashing .350/.409/.400 (wRC+ 121). Now, his BABIP is inflated at .389, so there will most likely be some regression, but hopefully he can maintain his offensive production in a lineup that desperately needs it.

What will Carlos Carrasco do?

In-season WAR is a silly stat, as proclaimed by our fearless leader. But even still, positive numbers are better than negative numbers, and did you know that Carlos Carrasco currently has both positive and negative WAR, depending on where you look? FanGraphs has him at a cool 0.5, where as baseball-reference has him at -0.3. And looking at his four starts (2 good, 2 bad), it makes sense. We all want to believe that Cookie going to be fine, but there is cause for concern. He’s giving up a lot of home runs (1.59 HR/9), but he’s also striking out everyone else (15.35 K/9). At any rate, let’s hope for good Carrasco in this series and every series thereafter.

Miami Marlins lineup



How many games will the Indians win against the Marlins?

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  • 65%
    (73 votes)
  • 28%
    (32 votes)
  • 6%
    (7 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now