If it feels like the Cardinals just played the Marlins, you are correct. In the first series after the All-Star Break, the Cardinals had a three-game series at homer against Miami and the Marlins took two of three after multiple Mike Matheny bullpen blunders cost the Cardinals a series win. The teams will now play a four-game series in Miami. The Cardinals should destroy the Marlins.
As a preview was written just a few weeks, I will borrow a bit from it, and then discuss what is new about this series. First, the outfield:
The Marlins are led by a great, young outfield and the brilliance of Jose Fernandez. The Cardinals will not have to face Fernandez this weekend, but Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich comprise one of the best, if not the best outfield group in the majors. Stanton is amazing, and a relatively slow first half, notwithstanding, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. He has struck out frequently this year, but still ended the first half with 20 homers, 41 shy of the number he hit in the Home Run Derby.
Still checks out. What about the rest of the position players:
As for the rest of the team, first baseman Justin Bour is on the disabled list, second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended for steroids, and third baseman Martin Prado is a really nice, but often overlooked player. Chris Johnson, who had a really good run with the Braves a few years back, but was then traded in a double salary dump to Cleveland and was eventually let go, is currently the first baseman. At second base, Derek Dietrichhas performed pretty well with a 127 wRC+. Even if his .363 BABIP comes down, he should still be above average on offense.
At shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria has improved greatly over the past few years on defense but is still a liability on at the plate. J.T. Realmuto is the Marlins catcher, and he has been decent on offense for the Marlins this season, but he does not hit for a lot of power. In the unlikely even that Ichiro Suzuki gets ten hits in this series, he will reach 3,000 for his MLB career.
There’s a bit to unpack in there. Ichiro is now just four hits away from 3,000 so there is a chance that we witness history this weekend. Bour is still on the disabled list, but Dee Gordon is now back off his suspension. Gordon BABIP’d and scatted his way to nearly a five-WAR season last year due to his his high .333 batting average, along with good baserunning and (improved?) defense. He was hitting very poorly this year before the suspension, but it was just in 21 games. Projections have him as a below average hitter (85 wRC+). Assuming he keeps running well and his defense is solid, he should still be average to above-average.
The other major change from the last series is that the Cardinals will have to face Jose Fernandez. For more on Fernandez, check out Joe Schwarz’s post from earlier today comparing the arsenals of Fernandez and Carlos Martinez. Michael Wacha will pitch for the Cardinals.
On Friday night, Jose Urena, a 24-year-old righty, will take the mound for Miami. Urena has been unable to strike major league hitters out on a regular basis, but he does have a mid-90s fastball. He’s pitched mostly out of the bullpen this year, but Wei-Yin Chen is currently on the disabled list. Mike Leake will go for the Cardinals.
Saturday, Jarred Cosart goes for Miami. Cosart has accumulated more than 300 professional innings and somehow has 206 strikeouts against 157 walks. That ratio is somehow worse in four starts this year with 11 strikeouts and 16 walks in 19.2 innings.
At this time, it seems likely that Tyler Lyons would start for the Cardinals, although it is possible Alex Reyes gets the start if Lyons is needed in the next few days. UPDATE: Jaime Garcia will start with three days rest.
On Sunday, Tom Koehler will start for the Marlins. Koehler walks roughly 11% of batters, but has limited home runs to make him roughly average overall. Two weeks ago, Koehler lasted just four innings as the Cardinals scored four runs on 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out four times. Presumably Carlos Martinez will make the start for the Cardinals.
Tonight’s game is at 6:10 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest. It is also the MLB.tv free game of the day.
Friday’s game is at 6:10 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest.
Saturday’s game is at 6:10 pm CT will air on FS1.
Sunday’s game is at 12:10 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest and TBS.