Will the Marlins continue their red-hot July against the division-leading Mets?
First pitch of this series is tonight, July 7th, at 7:10 PM EST.
The Marlins take their 5-1 July record into the Big Apple to play the New York Mets for the 3rd time in 4 weeks. The division-leading Mets currently have the lead in the season series at 5 wins to the Marlins 2. However, the Marlins have acquired many of the injured pieces that had missed the previous 2 series.
Game 1, July 7th
First Pitch: 7:10 PM EST
Probable Starters: Dan Castano (1-1) vs Trevor Williams (1-5)
Marlins starter Dan Castano continues to prove to the club that he deserves a spot on the Major League roster once Edward Cabrera returns to the rotation. His 2.42 ERA in 7 appearances have really put an impression on coaches and fans alike. In his last outing, he acquired his first win of the 2022 season on the way to a Marlins sweep of the Washington Nationals, going 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks, while fanning 3. Castano has done a much better job keeping the ball low in the zone, where opponents are putting the ball in play directly at people, a lot like team ace Sandy Alcantara. However, he does not have the overpowering stuff. The key to success in this one is for Castano to continue getting the same results and keep the Marlins in the game for as long he lasts.
Getting to Williams
Trevor Williams has filled a role for the Mets, similar to Castano. Originally coming out of the
bullpen, Williams had to begin filling in spot starts after injuries to starters Tylor Megill and
Max Scherzer. The best way for the Marlins lineup to get to Williams is to have lefties, who are batting .301 against him, do whatever they can to get on base, while the righties do the slugging. Where this can go wrong though, is in the strikeout column, as 34 of the 77 outs Williams has made against right-handed batters in 2022 are of the strikeout variety. The Marlins, a high strikeout team, need to focus on putting the ball in play and working counts. Guys like Jon Berti, who sees a lot of pitches, can really take advantage of Williams. The more pitches he throws in an at bat, the more likely he leaves a ball over the plate, where opponents are batting .478.
Game 2, July 8th
First Pitch: 7:10 PM EST
Probable Starters: Pablo Lopez (5-4) vs Chris Bassitt (6-5)
Pablo Lopez is coming off a great start against the Nationals. He took a no-hitter into the 7th, although that inning was rocky after he gave up a double to Josh Bell, who later scored
on a Nelson Cruz single. Lopez continues to rediscover his footing after a phenomenal start to the season followed by a rough last month and a half. In this game, he needs to
continue to trust his changeup, keeping the ball low in the zone and letting the defense work. The Mets lineup has some sluggers, such as Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. If he
leaves that changeup more towards the center of the plate, they will make him pay. Keep the ball in the park and the team has a chance.
Wendle and Anderson
Chris Bassitt is making his first start since being placed on the Covid-IL on July 1st. Bassitt’s
previous two starts came against Miami, allowing 3 runs in each. In these games, Miami was missing both Joey Wendle (hamstring) and Brian Anderson (back), who have each made their return to the lineup coming off their IL stints. Wendle is a major piece to the Marlins lineup as low-strikeout rate hitter who gets the job done with runners in scoring position, while Anderson can play a multitude of positions at a high rate and still carry a decent bat for the Fish. Without Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jorge Soler, who are both also on the IL due to back spasms, these two play a key piece in this game and series as a whole.
Game 3, July 9th
First Pitch: 4:10 PM EST
Probable Starters: Braxton Garrett (1-3) vs Carlos Carrasco (9-4)
Coming off a career-best start, Braxton Garrett comes into Saturday looking to continue the progress he has made throughout the 2022 season. Although Garrett has looked mediocre in some outings, other starts he has come out and looked like a frontline MLB pitcher. Granted, there is a slim chance Garrett has a future as an MLB starter, but his 4.25 ERA in 2022 is a career-best. Based on his 4th of July start against the Nationals, it may be looking to come down even more.
In his previous start against the Mets, Garrett allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings of work. Although this is not the ideal start you are looking for against the division leader, it kept the Marlins in the game, which is all they can really ask from their place-holder. Garrett, like Castano, is in the Majors because of the injuries to Jesus Luzardo and his replacement, Cody Poteet. In order to keep a spot on the Major League roster, Garrett needs to continue to progress, and a good showing against the heavy-hitting Mets would be a great way to show it.
Carlos Carrasco, similar to Pablo Lopez, had a strong showing to start the season, but has really struggled over the last month and a half. In his last 7 outings, Carrasco has posted a 5.60 ERA, which the 14 walks over 35.1 innings pitched has played a large part in. The Fish really need to leave an impression on Carrasco by getting on the board early in order to set Braxton Garrett up with confidence. Look for, once again, Joey Wendle to do some real damage with the stick, working himself into good hitters counts and taking whatever is handed to him.
Game 4, July 10th
First Pitch: 1:40 PM EST
Probable Starters: Sandy Alcantara (9-3) vs Taijuan Walker (7-2)
Sandy Alcantara continues his Cy Young campaign against a team that currently has 2 previous winners on its roster. Sandy is coming off 8 innings of shutout baseball this past Tuesday, allowing 2 hits and punching out 10, against two of the games brightest stars. This sets Sandy up for a revenge outing against the Mets in the series finale on Sunday, where he will be facing off against Taijuan Walker. Walker has picked up a lot of slack while Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer have been sidelined.
The last time Sandy faced the Mets, they handed him possibly his worst outing of 2022, as he allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits in 7 innings, only striking out 4. The main guy to focus in on is Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, who got to Sandy with a solo home run in the 1st and big 2-RBI double later in the game. Sandy did not have his best stuff while facing this lineup 2 weeks ago, but coming off two gems against potent lineups, I fully expect Sandy to bounce back and shut the Mets offense down.
Elevate and Celebrate
Taijuan Walker has really stepped up as the Mets best pitcher with Max Scherzer and Jacob
deGrom both banged up. The main key with Walker has been consistency, as his 2.86 ERA over his 14 starts in 2022 is almost identical to the 2.89 ERA he has posted through his
last 7 starts. He is not going to overpower Marlins hitters with a high-velocity fastball; he
throws his sinker at an average speed of 93.7 MPH. But he will attack hitters, throwing the
sinker in the zone 59% of the time. The purpose of this is to get guys to hit ball on the ground to the pull side, creating a lot of ground outs and double plays. If the Marlins want to get around this, they are going to have to elevate the ball, whether that be line drives or fly balls.
The average exit velocities on Walker’s fastballs in the bottom part of the zone are in the mid-to-high 90’s, just typically on the ground at people. Recently, this has worked in favor of players like Jesus Sanchez and Bryan De La Cruz, who are starting to heat up in the hot month of July. This game, like most of Sandy’s starts, is a must-win for the Marlins' confidence, ensuring they do not lose too much ground on their path to .500 baseball.
Game 1: 5-3, MIA. Player of the Game: Joey Wendle
Game 2: 3-1, NYM. Player of the Game: Pete Alonso
Game 3: 6-4, NYM. Player of the Game: Starling Marte
Game 4: 4-1, MIA. Player of the Game: Sandy Alcantara
Series MVP: Joey Wendle
Joey Wendle is continuing to heat up since returning from his most recent IL stint last weekend against the Nationals. Just his presence in the Marlins lineup seems to have provided a spark in the clubhouse. Although I am predicting a series split, I could see the Marlins continuing their hot month of July due to walking into this series with one of their healthiest lineups since the beginning of May. Wendle was a key pickup in the offseason for the Fish, and I expect him to have a huge impact for the offense in this series.