Series Preview: Cubs (6-14) at Marlins (5-16)

In Series Previews by berselius42 Comments


The Cubs get a double-breather in this matchup with the Marlins. Not only do they get to face one of the rosters in the majors that's in even worse shape than theirs, but they escape the frigid midwest and head to balmy Miami. The Cubs dropped two of three to the vastly superior Reds, but could easily have won all three of them with an extra bounce or two their way. After a snow-out and sub-freezing doubleheader up in Minneapolis, the Marlins are happy to be back home themselves, even though team/Loria protestors likely outnumber the fans right now. They have not won a single series all year, unlike the Cubs who have an intimidating one series win.

Team Overviews

2013 numbers and NL rank given. Extremely small sample sizes apply, of course.

  Cubs Marlins
wRC+ 81 (14th) 59 (15th)
BSR -1.1 (8th) -2.6 (13th)
UZR -8.3 (14th) -14.0 (15th)
DRS -12 (14th) -14 (15th)
SP FIP- 94 (4th) 109 (10th)
RP FIP- 97 (8th) 102 (12th)

This should be a hilarious series of offensive futility. As a bonus, I think the new Marlins park is a pitchers' park. I will be disappointed if there are fewer than 50 innings played in this four game set (laughing).

Injury Updates

Giancarlo Stanton (aka, the Miami Marlins) has been banged up to start the year. He has yet to hit a HR and has a line of .200/.333/.255. His power outage has been attributed to some shoulder soreness that's been bothering him for the last two weeks. Logan Morrison is on the 60 day DL recovering from offseason knee surgery, but looks like he might actually be ready before that time is up. 

Matt Garza has been shut down again, this time with a dead arm. It's probably nothing, but we've been down this road too many times before. Ian Stewart is still spinning his wheels in rehab at Iowa. Kyuji Fujikawa has done some long tossing but hasn't thrown any bullpen sessions as yet.

Random News and Storylines

Over at fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan wrote up a nice piece on Soriano's awful-looking strikeout against Broxton yesterday. 

Drew Sheppard (@DShep25) put together an awesome montage gif of all 5 of Yu Darvish's pitches. It's kind of mesmerizing.

The Marlins need to go hire Mike Quade for their coaching staff. Former Matt Cain tradebait Ricky Nolasco was annoyed to find that he was starting the freezing night game instead of the day game during Tuesday's doubleheader, and wasn't given the option to pick as is apparently baseball tradition. If Cuey were around, he would have known when he was starting even before the previous game was snowed out.

Pitching Matchups

2013 ERA, FIP-, xFIP, and ZiPS FIP listed for each pitcher

Thursday: Edwin Jackson, RHP (4.84, 79, 3.34, 3.61) vs Kevin Slowey, RHP (1.90, 99, 4.32, 4.20), 6:10 PM CT (on WCIU for you Chicago folks)

Jackson has been wild this year, walking around 40% more batters than he had in the last two seasons. His strikeout rate is up a bit, which helps compensate, but he's kind of been all over the place this year. Thanks to the Cubs defense, about 30% of the runs he's given up were unearned. 

I couldn't pick Kevin Slowey out of a lineup of Twins starters over the past decade. It seems like they always have a ton of unremarkably solid 1-2 WAR type starters in their rotation every year. He's gotten off to a great start so far for the fish, managing to avoid getting blown up in each start. Despite throwing a lot of sinkers, he's a fly-ball machine. He heavily pitches to contact, so I expect him to get double digit strikeouts against this lineup (laughing).

Friday: Scott Feldman, RHP (4.50, 155, 5.43, 4.03) vs Wade LeBlanc, LHP (6.27, 105, 4.57, 4.03), 6:10 PM CT

I was defending Feldman in the comments earlier today, saying that he's pitched sort of decently but has been torpedoed by unearned runs. Turns out that's not so much the case – he's been both crappy AND unlucky. He's made a throwing error in each of his starts, presumably in honor of his likely replacement Matt Garza. 

LeBlanc has been hit hard this season as well, but at least his peripherals say that it's mostly babip variance. LeBlanc is mostly a fastball-changeup pitcher, and his best pitch is definitely that change. He was crushed by the Nationals ten days ago, and only lasted four innings against the Reds in his last start, giving up two runs.

Saturday: Travis Wood, LHP (2.08, 88, 4.43, 4.28) vs Alex Sanabia, RHP (5.09, 158, 5.77, 5.31), 6:10 PM CT

Wood was yet again solid in his last start, pitching into the seventh and giving up only two runs (IIRC, at least one of which was aided by the failpen). His K and BB numbers have stabilized to close to his recent career averages, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that his 3.4% HR/FB is not going to last. 

Sanabia looks like he was an up and comer around 2010 or so, posting solid minor league numbers up the ladder and having a solid twelve start debut, finishing the 2010 season with a 3.65 FIP. He then found his way back into the minors and began to struggle a bit in AAA. I'm not really sure why ZiPS dislikes him so much – Steamer has him nearly a run better in FIP. He throws mostly sinkers and changeups.

Sunday: Carlos Villanueva, RHP (1.53, 105, 3.28, 4.09) vs Ricky Nolasco, RHP (3.81, 100, 4.16, 3.80), 12:10 PM CT

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that ESPN didn't pick this one up for their Sunday night game.

Villanueva continues to go deep into games for the Cubs, pitching into the 9th against the Reds before being pulled to watch the Marmol blow the lead to a Joey Votto single (no real blame on Marmol here, since Votto is actually pretty good). The Cubs pitching staff did a great job with Votto, holding him to two hits and one walk over the whole series, as well as gunning him down on the basepaths.

Nolasco pitched five annoyed innings in Minnesota on Tuesday, giving up two runs and striking out four. His numbers are almost right in line with his projection. He throws a lot of pitches, but his best two are the splitter and slider.

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  1. dmick89

    I like Julie a lot and this is a good article. However, it has been going forever. Since I’ve been blogging, here are the years the Cubs entered the season as a shitty team: 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Here are the years Cubs fans have been surprised they weren’t good: 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Here are the years fans have been surprised they didn’t reach the postseason: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and probably 2013. The years that Cubs fans have been somewhat surprised they didn’t win it all: every year.

    One thing I’ve learned to count on from the average Cubs fan is that he or she thinks they’ll be good, thinks they’ll contend and truly believes they’ll reach the postseason so they can win it all. That’s what the average Cubs fan believes every single year and it has nothing to do with how good the team actually is.

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  2. Rizzo the Rat

    Another amazing thing about The Marlins: Their pythag record is just as bad as their actual W-L record. In other words, none of their dismal winning % can be attributed to unlucky run distribution.

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  3. Suburban kid

    @ Rizzo the Rat:
    Not surprising given their -44 run differential. Interesting to see the Cubs’ (6-14) RD of -17 is the same as the Angels (8-12) and the Dodgers (10-11).

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  4. Rizzo the Rat

    @ dmick89:
    I don’t think anyone is surprised the Cubs aren’t good this year. I think it’s more that some fans were hoping Theo & co. could turn the team around faster than they did. e.g., people are angry that they still have Soriano and Marmol and haven’t made any big signings. But I don’t think the “average fan” went into this year expecting the Cubs to win it all, or even to win half their games.

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  5. SVB

    I’m impressed by the consistency in Darvish’s release. Very Cool.

    I was about to comment: Feldman FIP- of 155? Who the hell could top that? Then I read the next pitching match-up.

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  6. SVB

    Somewhere, maybe SI, I saw a suggestion that the Braves trade Kimbrel to the Tigers for their hotshot 3B prospect. The idea was that the Braves have a big hole at 3b, though Chris Johnson seems to be OK, and Kimbrel can be replaced by someone else in their deep bullpen.

    Coke giving up 4 in the 10th might help convince the Tigers to make that call.

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  7. Rizzo the Rat

    SVB wrote:

    Chris Johnson seems to be OK

    He’s having a good month, but his career has been pretty bad so far (b-ref had him below replacement going in to this year).

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  8. SVB

    Lions drafted Ansah. If they draft Kee’ Allen from Oregon, they can remake their bad boy image with…
    Ansah Suh Kee

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  9. SVB

    @ rattier:

    Trying to bring up the level of conversation here. (dying laughing)

    Also demonstrating my dork credentials on a blog with a heavy load of sabermetric discussion.

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  10. SVB

    dmick, is this really necessary to get Myles to write his JOTs?

    And doesn’t GBTS get cold in the A/C without his shirt on?

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