Sometimes these previews feel pointless. The All-Star break increases the time between the two series, but the Cardinals faced the Marlins so recently that I don’t feel like I’m going to be teaching anybody about what type of team the Marlins are. They are the anti-Cardinals. They have a negative run differential and are 53-42 on the season. They have won the vast majority of their one-run games.
In fact, in that Marlins preview, I said if baseball were fair, the Cardinals would win nothing but one-run games against the Marlins, But we know baseball isn’t fair so that didn’t happen. The Marlins won two one-run games in that series. They have since lost their last three one-run games. They got swept by the Orioles to begin their 2nd half.
I mentioned last time that the Marlins were not an impressive offensive team, and right now they are hovering around average with a 99 wRC+, good for 18th in the MLB. But they have been exceptional against left-handed pitchers. They are third in the majors in wRC+ against LHP, but they have a .312 team average against LHP which is nuts. As a team they have just a 93 wRC+ against RHP.
Most of this is just having a very right-handed heavy lineup. Jorge Soler is the biggest culprit with a 232 wRC+ against LHP this year. He’s hit 10 of his 24 homers against LHP. He has nearly 200 less PAs against LHP. Jacob Stallings has been unplayably bad against RHP, but has a nearly league average line when facing lefties. Both Garrett Cooper and Bryan de la Cruz haven’t shown strong splits for their career, but this year, they are considerably better against LHP. Luis Arraez, while worse against lefties both in his career and this year, is obviously still good against them or he wouldn’t be this close to .400.
With the injuries to Jazz Chisholm and then Jonathan Davis during the last Cardinals’ series, the Marlins starting CFer is Rule 5 pickup - AAA edition - Dane Myers. He has gotten off his MLB career to a good start at 27-years-old with a 127 wRC+. But he has a 100% HR/FB% - he has hit one flyball and it was a homer - and a .429 BABIP, plus no walks through 29 PAs. His defense appears to be good though.
The Marlins’ defense is defined by their lefties. They have a trio of dominant lefties. AJ Puk is their closer and has the lowest K% of the three with 28.6% but he also walks just 3.8% of batters. Tanner Scott strikes out over 36% of batters while Steven Okert strikes out over 34%. They have a couple of long relievers in the recently activated Johnny Cueto and George Soriano, both of whom threw about 50 pitches on Saturday.
Despite playing the Marlins pretty recently, the starting pitching matchups will be different. With Eury Perez optioned, there will be just one pitcher who we saw a couple weeks ago. He was of course dominant with no runs allowed and eight strikeouts. As for who it is and the rest of the starters....
Monday - 6:45
Jesus Luzardo (3.29 ERA/3.23 FIP/3.45 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (4.12 ERA/3.80 FIP/4.62 xFIP)
Luzardo is the sole projected starter who we last saw and as I mentioned above, he was truly dominant. This could work to the Cardinals’ advantage though, because sometimes seeing a pitcher two times in a close period can make you very familiar with their pitches. The same principle behind the three times through the order penalty essentially.
Mikolas gets the start after his start three days ago was rain delayed. I fear we will get the worst of both worlds: we will get a probable good starter removed thanks to the rain (which the bullpen coughed up) and I’m not super confident Mikolas will be good with such an unusual schedule. He only threw 34 pitches, but I just don’t have a good feeling. The Marlins are at least bad against right-handed pitchers.
Tuesday - 6:45 PM
Edward Cabrera (4.70 ERA/4.49 FIP/3.99 xFIP) vs. Jordan Montgomery (3.23 ERA/3.53 FIP/3.82 xFIP)
On the flip side, I would not feel good about Cabrera starting if I were a Marlins fan. They are so desperate for starting pitching that they are going to fast track Cabrera past a rehab assignment. He did throw a simulated game, but that’s it. He last threw on June 13th. He’s not the official starter, but I don’t see how it’s anybody else. Perez is shut down, they aren’t prepared for a bullpen start and they have no healthy starters on their 40 man aside from Perez, who I wouldn’t think they’d call him this quickly.
Montgomery will have a challenge. The Marlins are excellent against left-handed pitchers. Let’s hope that the Cardinals handle a guy who maybe should have had a rehab start or two.
Wednesday - 1:15 PM
Sandy Alcantara (4.64 ERA/3.99 FIP/4.05 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (?)
Yeah I don’t actually know who the Cardinals are starting this game. This is three days after the doubleheader and not only that, the Cardinals technically only have four starting pitchers on their MLB squad. Unless they plan to call someone up, Hudson is just about the only option. The other 40 man options are two lefties.
Alcantara is having a down season and it’ll be interesting to see what he does, specifically because he usually has good starts against the Cardinals. But he also hasn’t had an ERA worse than 4.00 since he left the Cardinals. The advanced stats have been shakier in a couple of his earlier years though. But either way, I still expect him to dominate and hope to be surprised if he’s not.
Probably simultaneously a better set of pitching matchups than you’d think while also not being terribly encouraging. That’s because on the Cardinals’ side, you get Hudson, a left-handed pitcher against a lefty crushing team, and a starter on an unusual schedule. But you get take rose colored glasses of the opposition too: a lefty (against a team with a lot of hitters who have historically crushed lefties), a starter rushing back from injury, and a diminished Alcantara.
Both rotations are in weird spots, and this may very well be a weird series. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Cards, who seem to lose in weird series, and it bodes well for the Marlins, who seem to win in weird series. But the beauty of baseball is finding out if what has been true, remains true.