Series Preview: Cubs (6-14) at Marlins (5-16)

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The Cubs get a double-breather in this matchup with the Marlins. Not only do they get to face one of the rosters in the majors that's in even worse shape than theirs, but they escape the frigid midwest and head to balmy Miami. The Cubs dropped two of three to the vastly superior Reds, but could easily have won all three of them with an extra bounce or two their way. After a snow-out and sub-freezing doubleheader up in Minneapolis, the Marlins are happy to be back home themselves, even though team/Loria protestors likely outnumber the fans right now. They have not won a single series all year, unlike the Cubs who have an intimidating one series win.

Team Overviews

2013 numbers and NL rank given. Extremely small sample sizes apply, of course.

  Cubs Marlins
wRC+ 81 (14th) 59 (15th)
BSR -1.1 (8th) -2.6 (13th)
UZR -8.3 (14th) -14.0 (15th)
DRS -12 (14th) -14 (15th)
SP FIP- 94 (4th) 109 (10th)
RP FIP- 97 (8th) 102 (12th)

This should be a hilarious series of offensive futility. As a bonus, I think the new Marlins park is a pitchers' park. I will be disappointed if there are fewer than 50 innings played in this four game set (laughing).

Injury Updates

Giancarlo Stanton (aka, the Miami Marlins) has been banged up to start the year. He has yet to hit a HR and has a line of .200/.333/.255. His power outage has been attributed to some shoulder soreness that's been bothering him for the last two weeks. Logan Morrison is on the 60 day DL recovering from offseason knee surgery, but looks like he might actually be ready before that time is up. 

Matt Garza has been shut down again, this time with a dead arm. It's probably nothing, but we've been down this road too many times before. Ian Stewart is still spinning his wheels in rehab at Iowa. Kyuji Fujikawa has done some long tossing but hasn't thrown any bullpen sessions as yet.

Random News and Storylines

Over at fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan wrote up a nice piece on Soriano's awful-looking strikeout against Broxton yesterday. 

Drew Sheppard (@DShep25) put together an awesome montage gif of all 5 of Yu Darvish's pitches. It's kind of mesmerizing.

The Marlins need to go hire Mike Quade for their coaching staff. Former Matt Cain tradebait Ricky Nolasco was annoyed to find that he was starting the freezing night game instead of the day game during Tuesday's doubleheader, and wasn't given the option to pick as is apparently baseball tradition. If Cuey were around, he would have known when he was starting even before the previous game was snowed out.

Pitching Matchups

2013 ERA, FIP-, xFIP, and ZiPS FIP listed for each pitcher

Thursday: Edwin Jackson, RHP (4.84, 79, 3.34, 3.61) vs Kevin Slowey, RHP (1.90, 99, 4.32, 4.20), 6:10 PM CT (on WCIU for you Chicago folks)

Jackson has been wild this year, walking around 40% more batters than he had in the last two seasons. His strikeout rate is up a bit, which helps compensate, but he's kind of been all over the place this year. Thanks to the Cubs defense, about 30% of the runs he's given up were unearned. 

I couldn't pick Kevin Slowey out of a lineup of Twins starters over the past decade. It seems like they always have a ton of unremarkably solid 1-2 WAR type starters in their rotation every year. He's gotten off to a great start so far for the fish, managing to avoid getting blown up in each start. Despite throwing a lot of sinkers, he's a fly-ball machine. He heavily pitches to contact, so I expect him to get double digit strikeouts against this lineup (laughing).

Friday: Scott Feldman, RHP (4.50, 155, 5.43, 4.03) vs Wade LeBlanc, LHP (6.27, 105, 4.57, 4.03), 6:10 PM CT

I was defending Feldman in the comments earlier today, saying that he's pitched sort of decently but has been torpedoed by unearned runs. Turns out that's not so much the case – he's been both crappy AND unlucky. He's made a throwing error in each of his starts, presumably in honor of his likely replacement Matt Garza. 

LeBlanc has been hit hard this season as well, but at least his peripherals say that it's mostly babip variance. LeBlanc is mostly a fastball-changeup pitcher, and his best pitch is definitely that change. He was crushed by the Nationals ten days ago, and only lasted four innings against the Reds in his last start, giving up two runs.

Saturday: Travis Wood, LHP (2.08, 88, 4.43, 4.28) vs Alex Sanabia, RHP (5.09, 158, 5.77, 5.31), 6:10 PM CT

Wood was yet again solid in his last start, pitching into the seventh and giving up only two runs (IIRC, at least one of which was aided by the failpen). His K and BB numbers have stabilized to close to his recent career averages, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that his 3.4% HR/FB is not going to last. 

Sanabia looks like he was an up and comer around 2010 or so, posting solid minor league numbers up the ladder and having a solid twelve start debut, finishing the 2010 season with a 3.65 FIP. He then found his way back into the minors and began to struggle a bit in AAA. I'm not really sure why ZiPS dislikes him so much – Steamer has him nearly a run better in FIP. He throws mostly sinkers and changeups.

Sunday: Carlos Villanueva, RHP (1.53, 105, 3.28, 4.09) vs Ricky Nolasco, RHP (3.81, 100, 4.16, 3.80), 12:10 PM CT

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that ESPN didn't pick this one up for their Sunday night game.

Villanueva continues to go deep into games for the Cubs, pitching into the 9th against the Reds before being pulled to watch the Marmol blow the lead to a Joey Votto single (no real blame on Marmol here, since Votto is actually pretty good). The Cubs pitching staff did a great job with Votto, holding him to two hits and one walk over the whole series, as well as gunning him down on the basepaths.

Nolasco pitched five annoyed innings in Minnesota on Tuesday, giving up two runs and striking out four. His numbers are almost right in line with his projection. He throws a lot of pitches, but his best two are the splitter and slider.

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About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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