Dodgers lost the 2010 Series 2 - 4, 1 -2, home and road
Manager: Edwin Rodriguez
Last time we met, the Marlins were 13 -7; they are now 29 - 19, fresh off a sweep of the World Champion Giants, and breathing down necks of the Phillies. They took two of three from us in a highly contested series, with the Dodgers winning the final game in extra innings when Andre Either blasted a home run in the 10th inning off of the possible starter on Saturday, Brian Sanches. Marlins have one of the best road records in baseball 15 - 7; luckily we will miss Anibal Sanchez who shut down the Giants, earlier in the week.
Key Additions: John Buck, Omar Infante, Javier Vazquez, Edward Mujica
Key Subtractions: Dan Uggla, Ronny Paulino, Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross, Cameron Maybin
Key Injuries: Logan Morrison was missing last time, but he's back; however, we get lucky again because Josh Johnson is nursing a wounded wing and will miss our series. Hanley Ramirez was hit on the foot Wednesday, did not play Thursday, not sure of his outlook for this series.
1st Base: Gaby Sanchez continues to sizzle, last time we looked he had a .862 OPS, that has now risen to .885.
2nd Base: Perennial utility player Omar Infante parlayed a successful gig in Atlanta into a full time gig with Florida. Infante shocked many by being the centerpiece in the deal for Uggla. The late blooming Infante has yet to reach the same heights with the Marlins that he reached with the Braves in 2010. Baseball is a strange game indeed, in 2010 Uggla and Infante were two of the best 2nd baseman in the league, now they are the worst offensive performers.
Shortstop: Since Hanley Ramirez showed up to play SS for the Marlins in 2006 he's been one of the top offensive forces in the NL. Between 2007 -2009 Hanley posted three straight years of an OPS between .940 - .960. Last year his OPS dropped 100 points to .853. In 2011 it is .610. For years we have asked Loney to hit like Hanley; too bad he decided to do it in 2011.
3rd Base: Headed into spring the Marlins were hoping that local Chatsworth High star Matt Dominguez was going to show enough to become the starting 3rd baseman. It didn't work out, and so the team was left to scramble for a 3rd baseman as opening day neared. Four different Marlins have started at 3rd base, Greg Dobbs, Donnie Murphy, Emilio Bonifacio, and Wes Helms. Dobbs has always been able to hit right handed pitching and nothing has changed as he leads the group with a .836 OPS. When some think that Russell Mitchell will not have much of a major league career they only need to look at Wes Helms and realize they are probably wrong.
Catcher: John Buck signed the big three-year, 16 million dollar deal with the Marlins to hit home runs after clubbing 20 with the Jays in 2010. Problem with that is that was the first year in an eight-year career that Buck had ever hit as many as 20 home runs. It was certainly the first time he'd ever been north of a .250 average, and walking is not exactly his specialty so basically what you have is a young version of Rod Barajas. He's been a 400 plate appearance catcher for most of his career but now is expected to be one of the main cogs for the Marlins. So far that is not working out; I doubt it ever does.
Right Fielder: Mike Stanton missed a few weeks at that start of the season. He took a while to get going but is now making up for lost time. Might be the hottest hitter in the NL not wearing sunglasses or playing for the Reds. His competition is fierce in RF, but even so, fangraphs has him as the second best offensive right fielder in the NL. Eric posted Jay Bruce's hot May in the comments, but Stanton says don't forget about me:
99 plate appearances, nine home runs, 19 runs batted in, 1.023 OPS
Center Fielder: The Marlins finally gave up on Cameron Maybin, leaving them with nothing to show for Miggy Cabrera except some relief pitchers they got in exchange for Maybin. To plug the hole in centerfield, they moved 2009 ROY Chris Couglan from LF to CF. Couglan was a big reason why the Marlins took two of three from us, getting five hits, two home runs, driving in five runs. Since then however he has only put up a .535 OPS so hopefully his bat will stay cold for another weekend.
Left Fielder: Logan Morrison just might be the best hitter in the NL no one has heard off. At this moment he has an OPS of .996, an OPS+ of 168, and is basically a stud.
Bench: Bonifacio, Posey Killer, and Brett Hayes fill out the bench.
Game One Stater: One time stud pitcher Javy Vazquez goes in game one. Until his last start in which he stymied the Rays, Javy had been one of the worst pitchers in baseball.
Game Two Starter: Brian Sanches appears to be the odds on favorite to start game two but that could change if he is needed in the bullpen Friday Night. He's been their long reliever, has the second lowest ERA (1.52) on the team, but the 2nd highest xFIP (4.41).
Game Three Starter: Ricky Nolasco is one of the big three, just a tad behind the production of Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. He's coming off a one-run gem against the Giants.
Bullpen: Leo Nunez closes for the Marlins and usually gets the job done. He'll be setup by Clay Hensley, Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, and Brian Sanchez. Michael Dunn and Randy Choate are the left handers Andre will be facing. This is a solid group, no one is spectacular but they get the job done. On Wednesday night the bullpen was taxed; Nunez blew the save, hopefully he has another blown save in him.
Florida is a good team with plenty of firepower. Even with Hanley misfiring they can throw Sanchez, Stanton, and Morrison at us, and they are an excellent road team. We are lucky they have to throw a bullpen man into the rotation on Saturday, and we get to face Javy Vazquez on Friday. We get Blake back but - just like Rafy - he will probably struggle with rust. No left handers for Sands to feast on so Andre will need to bring his A game. I expect runs to be scored tonight, then nothing on Saturday / Sunday. Can our bullpen match up? Rubby damn right it can.