The Marlins are six games out of first in the weak NL East. The Cardinals are five games out of first in the relatively tough NL Central. The Cardinals are the better team on paper, but the Marlins have been rather surprising. With the way the Cardinals have been hitting, don't expect an easy series.
Some Guys Who Are Giancarlo Stanton
Look what happens when I Google 'Giancarlo Stanton':
Screw it. I'm writing a poem.
An Ode to Giancarlo Stanton's Powerful Hips
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who looked at the ball and said "F-
Look: poetry is just not my jam. But Giancarlo Stanton is, and he should be yours, too. Perhaps the most coveted trade target in MLB—possibly only a reality because he plays for the Marlins—Stanton is having a heckuva 2014: 21 HRs, .272 ISO, 173 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR in 84 games. He is 24 years old. This is essentially all you need to know (besides the fact that he has a .384 BABIP, that is). But, I care about more than the bare essentials.
I will leave you a moment to gather yourself before we move on to the rest of the Marlins.
Some Guys Who Hit Good
Former Brewer, Pirate, and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle Casey McGehee has been pretty darn good for the Marlins this year. A lot better than that Ty Wigginton guy the Marlins toyed with in Spring Training. McGehee has managed 118 wRC+ with only 1 HR! He's got a .364 BABIP and a .380 OBP. I suspect McGehee will hit for slightly more power in the second half of the season, but who knows. This is definitely a different approach for him.
Christian Yelich is a 22 year old left fielder. He's been good for a 113 wRC+ and has a .258/.339/.417 slash line with 11 SBs. He should continue to develop, and if he's able to hit for a little more average and a little more power, he should be a 4 WAR guy.
During the offseason, Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed a 3-year deal with the Marlins. Saltalamacchia is basically who he's always been, but he's walking a little bit more this season. He's been good for 112 wRC+, too.
Center fielder Marcell Ozuna has 14 HRs so far, but only a 110 wRC+. He doesn't walk much, he strikes out 28% of the time, and despite a .328 career BABIP, has only hit .265 for his career. However, at 23 years old and essentially only a season's worth of PAs under his belt, there's still hope that Ozuna can develop a little bit of patience at the plate to go along with his good power.
Second baseman Derek Dietrich has been worth 104 wRC+. He's pretty adequate all the way around, and that's really saying something when...
Some Guys Who Are Donovan Solano
Yes, former Cardinals farmhand Donovan Solano. Donovan Solano has a 33 wRC+ for the 2014 Marlins.
Some Guys Who Don't Hit So Good
HEY GUYS! Did you know that Jacob Turner is from the St. Louis area? He is! He's from St. Charles! Get ready to hear that a lot! I bet Jacob Turner even went to high school in St. Louis!
Some Guys Who Pitch Good
RIP Jose Fernandez. Please come back your otherworldly self!
Henderson Alvarez is having a career year. He's a low-to-mid 90s guy who doesn't strike anyone out. He also doesn't walk anybody or give up home runs. This year, Alvarez is throwing fewer fastballs and more changeups, and the approach seems to be working for him.
Nathan Eovaldi is the Marlins version of Joe Kelly. He throws hard and can't even muster 7 Ks per 9 innings. He's decreased his fastball tendencies from last year and started throwing a slider more often. Whatever Eovaldi is doing, it is working.
Some Guys Who Don't Pitch So Good
So far, Andrew Heaney has been a little underwhelming. He's been aggressively promoted through the Marlins system, and likely wouldn't be up quite yet if not for Fernandez's injury. Heaney is doing a good job of limiting walks, but he's also not striking anyone out and he's averaged a home run per start. I feel like this is a guy the Cardinals will struggle against. I hope I'm wrong!
Guys such as: Carlos Marmol (who is now with the Reds on a minor league deal), Brad Hand, Kevin Gregg, Kevin Slowey, and, very briefly, Henry Rodriguez. Some of these guys strike out a fair number of batters. All of them walk way, way too many guys. Case in point: despite a shiny 2.10 ERA, AJ Ramos's 4.45 xFIP reveals another story. Ramos is walking 7 guys per 9 innings, so that is Not Good.
Lastly: I'm very sorry for all of you who will be watching this game because the Marlins Fourth of July uniforms are going to look terrible. Nonetheless, enjoy the holiday. Oh! And answer this poll.