Here Come The Marlins

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and the Florida Marlins come to Los Angeles for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium starting Friday night.  Both clubs had Thursday off, so they will likely be well rested.  Both are coming off sweeps; the Marlins just took three straight in San Diego, and five of Florida's last eight series have resulted in a sweep.

Just like the Dodgers, a Ramirez is the Marlins' best player.  Hanley is a true superstar -- he has started at shortstop for the National League in the last two All-Star games -- quietly having his best season.  Ramirez is leading the league in batting average, hitting .348/.411/.563, with a 4.16 wOBA, and is fifth in MLB in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 4.5 (just slightly behind Matt Kemp, by the way).

Old friend Cody Ross still mans centerfield for Florida, and as Joe Frisaro of MLB.com recently noted, Ross was once part of a Dodger minor league outfield with potential:

"[Shane] Victorino, [Jayson] Werth and me, we all clicked," Ross said. "All three of us were in Las Vegas. Me and Victorino were in the outfield. Werth came down on rehab assignments.

"We'd hang out in Spring Training. Those guys became pretty good friends of mine, and we'd keep in touch, even in the offseason."

Heralded corner infield prospect Gaby Sanchez was recalled on Monday, but so far has been limited to pinch-hitting duty. Meanwhile, the Marlins continue to play one of the worst players in baseball, Emilio Bonifacio, at third base.  Among those qualified for the batting title, only three players have a lower WAR than Bonifacio's -0.4 (yikes, Vernon Wells!).  Bonifacio is below replacement level as a player, yet his in penciled into the first or second spot in the Marlins' batting order nearly every day.  He is seventh in the NL with 410 PA.

The Marlins' pitching is headlined by Josh Johnson, the 25-year old ace of the staff.  He is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA, a 2.90 FIP and a 3.37 x-FIP.  Over the last two years, Johnson's winning percentage (.833, 15-3) is the best in baseball among pitchers with 15 or more decisions.

Closer Matt Lindstrom struggled mightily (6.52 ERA, 1.897 WHIP) but is currently on the disabled list.  The remainder of the Marlins' bullpen has performed well, led by flamethrowers.  Leo Nunez, Dan Meyer, Kiko Calero, and Renyel Pinto have combined for 151 strikeouts in 149.1 innings.

Over the past few years, the Marlins' reputation has been that of a poor defensive club.  They have improved this year somewhat, but have been sunk defensively by unlikely source.  As Juan Rodriguez of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, the defensive problem has been on the mound:

"At most of the positions [the Marlins] don't look anything way above average or below average with the exception of pitchers," said Ben Jedlovec, a research analyst at BIS. "Their pitching staff, when you break it down by the individual components, they haven't been holding runners very well. A lot of guys have been taking off based on the pitcher. ... What really weighs down the pitching staff is that they haven't been fielding the position very well."

Marlins pitchers have committed 10 errors, tied for fourth most in the NL, even though they do not field as many balls as the average pitcher.

2009 Marlins
Record 49-47, 3rd NL East, 6 GB
Pythag Record   
46-50 (10th in NL)
Runs Scored 4.49/gm (5th in NL)
wOBA .317 (12th in NL)
Runs Allowed 4.66/gm (9th in NL)
FIP 4.07 (7th in NL)
Defensive Efficiency .692 (19th in NL)

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Fish Stripes is the SB Nation Marlins blog.  Here are some recent posts:

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The Dodgers won two of three in Florida back in May, including a near no-hitter by Friday's starter, Clayton Kershaw.

May 15:  Dodgers 6, Marlins 4

May 16:  Marlins 6, Dodgers 3

May 17:  Dodgers 12, Marlins 5

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Pitching Probables

Friday:  Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 3.41 FIP) vs. Josh Johnson (8-2, 2.90 FIP)

SaturdayHiroki Kuroda (3-5, 3.83 FIP) vs. Rick VandenHurk (1-0, 7.12 FIP)

SundayJason Schmidt (1-0, 4.72 FIP) vs. Chris Volstad (7-9, 4.78 FIP)

I will be there on Sunday covering the game.

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