May 28, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielderMarcell Ozuna
(48) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a run during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Miami Marlins 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tomahawk Take has teamed up with another site on the Fansided Network, the Marlin Maniac, and Editor Ehsan Kassim to bring you a Q&A Preview of the upcoming Braves Vs. Marlins series beginning tomorrow evening. We formulated six questions that we asked of them regarding the Marlins, and they did the same. We’ll show you our questions in this preview, and their answers. Then later, in another post, we’ll show you their questions to us about the Braves, and our answers. Before we get to the Q&A though, let’s take a look at the upcoming series in Atlanta.
The Miami Marlins (29-51) have had a dismal season, and even in a rebuilding year no one expected things to be quite as bad as they have been. Trying to put together a lineup and rotation that can compete while dealing with a multitude of injuries has not helped the Marlins compete this year. All that said, the Fish may be starting to find their groove and turn things around. They’ve won five of their last six games, and 7 out of their last 10, are beginning to get healthy again, and are finally getting their cylinders firing a bit. Still firmly entrenched in last place, the Marlins hope to turn things around at least enough to have a respectable season, and lay a foundation for future growth. Aiding them in that goal is the fact that their starting rotation is close to being healthy again. Nathan Eovaldi returned to the rotation on June 18, and Henderson Alvarez‘s return from the DL will be Thursday evening. Jacob Turner was originally scheduled to pitch on Thursday, but has now reportedly been bumped back to Friday. Turner has been really good, so that could be good news for Atlanta. If the Marlins can continue to build some renewed vigor in their pitching rotation, they could have considerably more hot streaks in their future.
Standing squarely in the way of their current streak is the Atlanta Braves (48-34), who are playing with the same kind of zeal they had back in April. Despite being atop the NL East with a 6.5 game lead, Atlanta has been streaky this year, with a number of players mired in seemingly endless slumps. They are firing on all cylinders too now, having just came off a sweep of the NL West division leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Slumping players are beginning to hit the ball with authority, and the pitching has been, for the most part, stellar. With lots of rest lately, Atlanta will be primed to deal another sweep to the visiting Miami Marlins, a team they swept earlier in the season.
Taking the bump in game one against the Fish will be Kris Medlen (5-7, 3.02 ERA), who has been pitching very well lately. He’s won four out of his last five outings, has begun to show the kind of control he had in the latter half of last season, and his 5-7 record will fool you if that’s all you’re looking for in a scouting report. Medlen’s adversary for the Marlins will be Tom Koehler (1-5, 4.78 ERA). Like Medlen, Koehler has also pitched better than his record would indicate, but has also struggled more often than not. He will need to be on his game facing Atlanta hitters.
Q & A
We asked six questions of the folks over at Marlin Maniac, and below are those questions and answers…
Chris Headrick: Do you feel that the Marlins’ will trade Ricky Nolasco, and if so, do you think that is a wise move?
Ehsan Kassim: I would be surprised at this point to see Ricky Nolasco make his start on Wednesday. It seems like the entire NL West has interest in Ricky Nolasco and the Dodgers are the current front-runners for his services. As for if it’s a wise move, Nolasco is an impending free agent is not likely going to be resigned. Nolasco is an average pitcher that should slot well into a team’s four/five starting role. With the Marlins trying to move him quickly, they will be able to build their own market for his services. Henderson Alvarez is slated to return from the 60-day DL and may take over Nolasco’s spot.
CH: In what is obviously a rebuilding year for the Marlins, how do you feel Mike Redmond has done coaching this team?
EK: I believe Red has had his up-and-downs and is learning on the fly. I don’t necessarily agree with all his decisions, but I have not had a major gripe with his strategy. I still wish he would give more playing time to Justin Ruggiano over Juan Pierre, but that could be one of the front office members pulling strings to keep their guy on the field.
CH: Rob Brantly is batting .238 for the Marlins, and Jeff Mathis a mere .121. Mathis is probably playing more because he’s a veteran, and being paid 1.5 million, but how do you think the fans feel about Brantly not playing more?
EK: Brantly is clearly the better player and should be playing more, but I do like how Mathis handles the Marlins’ young pitching staff. They seem to do better with him behind the plate, but I don’t have the numbers right now to back that up. The issue with Brantly has been and still is the past balls he allows. Until he fixes that, it’s hard to justify much for Brantly at this point.
CH: The Marlins have had a tough couple of years. How do you see this team shaping up as the season progresses, and into the 2014 season?
EK: Call me crazy, but I think the Marlins can be a dangerous team for the rest of 2013 and in 2014. That is in no way implying they will be contenders for the playoffs. The Marlins started to return to health in the month of June and the results are reflective. The team finished the month with a 16-10, tied with the third most wins in the month.
CH: What has been the most surprising thing for the Marlins in 2013?
EK: Marcell Ozuna has been one of the more surprising stories in 2013, but of course you won’t hear much about that since he is a Marlin. Through Sunday night’s games, Ozuna owns a .300/.332/.430 slash line and UZR likens him playing the second best defense in baseball. Ozuna only played ten games in Double-A before the Marlins called him up to take the injured Giancarlo Stanton‘s place.
CH: Can you give us a quick scouting report of the pitchers the Braves will be facing this series?
- Game one: If my prediction of the Marlins winning two out of the three games stands, this is the game I give the edge to the Braves in, with Tom Koehler pitted against Kris Medlen. After a nice start to the season, teams have figured out Koehler as a starter and are starting to knock him around. His lack of command on the fastball has been a major issue as of late.
- Game two: Ricky Nolasco is penciled into start this one, but I believe Red will need his eraser in hand. I am under the impression Nolasco will be dealt before this game, so game 2 may be a TBD if Nolasco is dealt.
- Game three:Jacob Turner was scheduled to pitch, but has been bumped back to Friday night. In his place will be Henderson Alvarez. Henderson was acquired from the Blue Jays last November in the huge 12-player trade that people are still talking about. Alvarez has yet to pitch this year, having been put on the 15-day DL just one day before the season started because of shoulder pain, and then later transferred to the 60-day DL in early May when the shoulder didn’t heal quite as expected.
I’d like to thank Ehsan Kassim, Editor of Marlin Maniac for getting with us on the idea of a Q&A for this series, and apologize to him in advance, and on behalf of the Braves, for the butt-kicking the Marlins are about to receive 😉