Series #8: Bienvenido a Miami

Series Quick Look
Friday, April 28, 7:10PM
Saturday, April 29, 7:10PM
Sunday, April 30, 1:10PM
at Marlins Park, Miami, FL

The 10-10 Marlins will take on the 9-12 Pirates in Miami for the first series of 2017. Both teams have been struggling recently as the Marlins are 5-5 in their last ten games while the Pirates are 4-6. While the Marlins have the better bats currently, the Pirates have the better pitching. Each teams strength will be tested this series.

Last year when the Pirates faced the Marlins for the last series the Marlins sent a dagger the Pirates couldn’t come back from. After winning nine out of twelve games with a 62-56 record, the Pirates came back home and were swept by Miami in a three game series. This was the beginning of the late season collapse that ended the Pirates playoff hopes. The Pirates would then go 16-27-1 to end the season at 78-83.

ALL-TIME RECORD: Pirates lead 98-86
Last matchup…August 19-21, 2017: Miami swept the Pirates at PNC Park by scoring just 4 four more runs in the series.

About the Marlins:
There is a lot of attention surrounding the Marlins this season which has nothing to do with their on field play. Owner Jeff Loria announced this offseason that he is willing to sell the team and currently there are two groups remaining with interest in buying them. One group is headed by Jed Bush and Derek Jeter while the second is lead by Tagg Romney and Tom Glavine.

Meanwhile, the team has been left depleted with organizational depth due to the mismanagement of the team and the unfortunate loss of Jose Fernandez. Giancarlo Stanton leads the team in star power, but seems to find it hard to stay on the team. Christian Yelich is a rising star within MLB than many people aren’t familiar with, while Marcell Ozuna, JT Realmuto, and Dee Gordon are all very solid players who can make this offseason pretty potent. The team lacks any top end talent in their rotation, but have a very solid bullpen that can shut down many teams when relied upon.


4/28: RHP Jameson Taillon (2.13 ERA/3.72 FIP, 95 FIP-) vs.
LHP Adam Conley (3.00 ERA/4.03 FIP, 103 FIP-)

Making his first full season in the majors, Jameson Taillon has not disappointed to this point. After making three starts while only allowing a total of two earned runs, Taillon struggled a bit in his last start. Though he started with four scoreless innings, he allowed four earned runs in the 5th before being taken out. Taillon will look to get back on track with his deadly curveball today. Adam Conley is coming off a solid season that was tailed off due to injuries. So far this season he has been about average. His K rate is down along with his velocity, but so his his walk rate in this young season.

4/29: RHP Ivan Nova (2.00 ERA/3.05 FIP, 78 FIP-) vs.
RHP Dan Straily (3.92 ERA/3.99 FIP, 102 FIP-)

Making his fifth start for the Pirates in 2017, Ivan Nova will take his 7th ranked ERA in the National League into Marlins Park to once again try and make many people in Pittsburgh believers. We have thoroughly documented Nova’s success in the 412 and with every start he makes he has solidified the trade and contract he signed this offseason. Nova doesn’t make many batters miss and he does give up some hard contact (though this season his avg exit velocity against is 86.3MPH), but he eliminates damage by barely giving up any free passes. The Marlins offense will make for another strong test for Nova. Straily left the NL Central this offseason via trade but returns to face the Pirates in this matchup. Straily has been notorious for being a fly ball pitcher who routinely gives up home runs. Now that he is in he spacious Marlins Park, that should be limited. Straily is coming off of his best start this season where he struck out 14 batters in 7 innings and allowing just four baserunners.

4/30: RHP Chad Kuhl (6.63 ERA/4.13 FIP, 105 FIP-) vs.
RHP Tom Koehler (5.14 ERA/6.50 FIP, 165 FIP-)

Unlike Dan Straily who’s coming off of his best start, Chad Kuhl is coming off of what is possibly the worst start he ever endured. While facing the Cubs, he lasted just 1.2 innings and gave up nine earned runs. There were eight hits and four walks recorded during those five outs made. Before this start, Kuhl had a 2.60 ERA in three starts. He looked every bit of a solid backend starter until this blowup. Hopefully this is just a blip on the map than a common occurrence for the second year pitcher. Luckily for Kuhl he will be facing Tom Koehler who is struggling more than Kuhl on a more consistent pace. Koehler has allowed six home runs in 21 innings this season and has a career low 37.7% ground ball rate. Even better is the fact the the Pirates are 21 for 51 (.412 batting average) against Koehler

TV (Monday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh, Fox Sports-Florida.
TV (Tuesday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and Fox Sports-Florida
TV (Wednesday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and Fox Sports-Florida.
Radio (All games): KDKA-FM 93.7

Jung Ho Kang (3B): Restricted List (March 11)—Work visa denied.
Starling Marte (CF): Suspended 80 games (April 18)—Use of PED’s.
Adam Frazier (UTIL): 10 Day DL (April 24)-Hamstring
Antonio Bastardo (P): 10 Day DL (April 25)-Quadricep
David Freese (3B/1B): (April 26)-Hamstring

Jeff Locke (P): 10 Day DL (April 17)-Bicep

The Marlins starting pitcher is ranked 5th worst in MLB with a 4.60 FIP to go along with an 8th worst ERA at 4.24. Their bullpen isn’t ranking much better, but does have much more promise. Pittsburgh will need to make sure it gets to the Marlins pitching and quickly even if it’s leading with Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

Let’s see how long we can keep this key in our previews for this year. This time it is for a much different reason. Freese has been the Pirates best hitter by far this year, but he is now slowed by injury and likely not face the Marlins this series. With him out of the lineup and the losses of Kang and Marte, the Pirates cannot go cold. Players such as Gift Ngoepe, Jose Osuna, and Josh Bell are really going to need to step up this series.

Many people have viewed this bullpen as underwhelming. It starts with the closer Tony Watson and trickles down to just about everyone other than Felipe Rivero. Well, its been quite the opposite this year. Even when you look at Tony Watson and his 5.86 FIP, he leads all qualified pitchers in avg. exit velocity against (76.3 MPH) and avg. exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (81.8 MPH). As a matter of fact, when you look at the leaders of exit velocity against, the Pirates bullpen floods the leaders standings. With Watson leading it, Daniel Hudson ranks 4th (82.1 MPH), Wade LeBlanc ranks 5th (82.3 MPH), and Felipe Rivero ranks 11th (83 MPH). Watson, Hudson and LeBlanc each have not allowed a barreled ball this season, which is something only 12 pitchers in baseball can claim.

It is plain and simple, if you continue to make errors at the pace the Pirates make them you will never sniff the playoffs. Pittsburgh is tied for 2nd worse in MLB in errors committed. With possibly their best defender in Starling Marte out for half the season along with Kang and now Freese who are reliable defenders, the Pirates are going to have to step up even more to play fundamental baseball. The pitching this year has carried them, but they cannot solely rely on it in order to stay afloat. Also, I am sure the pitching would love to see the team help them walk off the mound at a quicker rate so they wouldn’t have to work so hard to be outstanding.

Gregory Polanco has raked against the Marlins. It would be a no better time to get the young slugger going than right now in this series. for his career, El Coffee has slashed a .371/.420/.565/.985 in 69 plate appearances. NICE! The lineup is already hurting and Polanco hasn’t done much this year to help it. Look for him to hopefully get going this series and pray with the rest of Pittsburgh that he can continue it through the rest of the season.

The Pirates will face in division rival Cincinnati Reds on Monday for a four-game series. They’ll play this one at Great American Ballpark where Billy Hamilton will look forward to stealing 10 bases and collect 16 hits.

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