A brief look at an opponent we play this weekend.
Dates we play them: 5/21-5/23 at home
Offense: A potential lineup: Chris Coghlan-LF, Gaby Sanchez-1B, Hanley Ramirez-SS, Jorge Cantu-3B, Dan Uggla-2B, Cody Ross-RF, Wes Helms-DH, Ronny Paulino/Brett Hayes-C, Cameron Maybin-CF. Bench: Bertt Carroll-OF, Brian Barden-IF, Bryan Peterson-OF.
Sorry this is so late, in the excitement of the meet-up I forgot we play a new opponent. Last season's NL RotY Chris Coghlan has been off to a pretty terrible start. Turns out a .365 BABIP is pretty hard to sustain. His BB% is down and his K% is way up, but his defense (super small sample size) has been better and he learned to steal bases. He should be nowhere near the top of the batting order. Gaby Sanchez is off to a nice start, which he needs to maintain. He is currently keeping first warm for Logan Morrison, the second best prospect in the Marlins' system (Mike Stanton is awesome). Sanchez may never hit more than 20 homeruns in a season, but if he continues to show the eye he has in the minors he could become a right-handed Lyle Overbay (who used to be good). Hanley Ramirez is one of the best players in the game. That being said, he can come off as a bit of a head case, his recent spat with manager Fredi Gonzalez being a prime example. He'll probably never have another 50+ steal season, but 30+ could still happen. Throw in the 20-30 homeruns, batting average over .300, .400 OBP, and improving defense and you get one incredibly valuable young player. Jorge Cantu is an enigma. He has flashes of brilliance (2005, 2008) and then looks like he needs to be out of baseball (2006, 2007). Whatever. He plays the hot corner well, doesn't walk much, and has some pop in his bat. It seems Jorge Cantu is Spanish for Joe Crede. Who knew?
Dan Uggla is on pace for what may be his best season yet as a Marlin. If Florida is out of it at the deadline, expect him to be gone and Coghlan to be moved to second. Don't buy into his current .291 BA. This is Dan Uggla. It too shall pass. He walks enough, strikes out a lot, and kills the ball when he hits it. He's below average defensively. The most depressing part of Cody Ross' .376 BABIP? He's only managed a .778 OBP out of it. Unless he starts walking like he did in 2007 (10.2 BB%), he'll never be more than an average player. Like the rest of the team, he strikes out a good deal and has some pop. He's essentially average in right and will move back to left when Uggla gets traded/Coghlan moves to second/Mike Stanton begins his assault on the NL East in right. Wes Helms is me guessing. Here's Fredi's strategy. So looks like I'll write about Wes. Helms has never really been able to hack it as a starter, but he's earned quite the living being a backup. Age has robbed him of his power, so he'll be playing third with Cantu DHing. Wes almost exclusively draws all his value from his glove now. Hayes and Paulino will split time this series, with Ronny getting the majority (so 2 games, I guess) at the backstop. Paulino is a serviceable starter, but will return to being the backup when John Baker heals. Paulino has some power and throws out 31% of runners. The majors have been rough on Cameron Maybin. The former top Tigers' prospect really needs to cut back on strikeouts (31.9 K% so far this year). He plays a great center field, but needs to improve with the bat or he'll be a fourth outfielder soon enough.
Pitching: A potential rotation and closer: Josh Johnson-RHP, Ricky Nolasco-RHP, Nate Robertson-LHP, Chris Volstad-RHP, Anibal Sanchez-RHP, and Leo Nunez-RHP.
Johnson landed a 4/$39 deal this offseason, which he has earned. The giant (6'7") bounced back from Tommy John Surgery in a big way last season, being worth 5.5 WAR. Thankfully, we miss him this weekend. He has a mid-90s fastball, a killer slider, and a plus changeup. Ricky Nolasco is who we see tonight. Need another reason why ERA is terrible? Nolasco was worth 4.2 WAR last season with a 5.06 ERA. He throws a low-90s fastball, one of the best sliders in the game, a curveball, and a splitter. Nate Robertson is still the same bundle of mediocrity he was in Detroit, just with the benefit of a lower BABIP. As soon as regression hits, he might move back to the bullpen. The goggled one has a high-80s fastball, a slider, and a changeup. None of them are special. Volstad is back of the rotation filler. At best he'll post a K:BB of 2, but probably more around 1.6-1.7. He'll get barely over 100 strikeouts. Another low-90s fastball, with a slider, curve, and change. Meh. Anibal Sanchez, he of the no-hitter, is on his way to his best season since 2006. It looks like he may have found some command over the past few seasons, and could become the third starter for the Fish. He throws a low-90s fastball, a plus slider and change, and a curveball. Leo Nunez was who the Marlins stole from the Royals for the mighty Mike Jacobs. He is a high strikeout pitcher, but his BABIP is due for a bump back to normal. He has a mid-90s fastball, a plus cahngeup, and a slider.
Outlook: Since this is the weekend of the outing, optimism reigns supreme. Prediction: 2-1.