In each of the last two games against the Brewers, the Phils have mustered a hefty one run in each game off solo shots. Two days ago, Jayson Werth took a ninth inning pitch long for a homerun to keep the Brewcrew from shutting out the Phillies. Then yesterday, Matt Stairs kept the Phils from getting shutout AND getting no hit, all in one swing, with a shot that went off the foul pole.
The offense has struggled the past two games to manufacture runs and last game, they struggled to even get on base via base hits. Over the past two games the Phils are hitting .164 (10-for-61).
Well, don’t expect much better tonight in Florida as the Phils face up against righthander Josh Johnson. Johnson (2-0) goes for his third win in his fourth start after starting the season dominating his first two starts against Washington and the Mets. His third start, however, wasn’t too impressive when the Nats got a second look at the 2009 Johnson, roughing him up for six runs in six innings.
I’m hoping the Phils can take advantage of a Johnson off a bad start and Johnson, being a righty, may be hit by the lefty-heavy filled Phils lineup. But Johnson, who can strikeout hitters, may take advantage of a free swinging Phils team.
When Cole Hamels went down yesterday off the linedrive back at him from Prince Fielder, I was initially worried. My panic level rose rapidly. Especially when Fielder was the one who hit the ball, one of the hardest hitting hitters in the league. When he swings, he really swings. But last night, I heard that the ball went off the meaty part of his back shoulder and that he may not even miss his next start. I was scared of a DL stint, and apparently, that isn’t going to be happening.
This Marlins series is the Phillies first real test of the season. The Fish, coming off the wrong side of a sweep against the Pirates, are hungry for their first win of the workweek. The Phils, with a struggling offense, look to cut down the Marlins division lead even further.
Here’s my Keys to the Series
-No easy pitches to Phillies hitters
-Take the extra bases
-Look to hit the longball
-Find a way on base
-Continue to play good defense
-Avoid giving up the longball
Tonight Brett Myers takes the ball against Johnson. Tomorrow night, Chan Ho Park starts against young stud righthander Chris Volstad. Then on Sunday, Jamie Moyer will toe the rubber against what was supposed to be Andrew Miller, but now that he’s on the DL, maybe Anibal Sanchez will start.
PHREAKIN’ PHUN WEEKEND
Not only do we have the Phils/Marlins series this weekend, but all four Philadelphia teams are in action this weekend. The Flyers played great last night and Marty Biron had a heck of a game. The Sixers play two at home this weekend against the Magic, coming into the Philly with the series tied–and a nervous Magic team. The Eagles got the draft Saturday, and at pick twenty-one I’m really hoping the Birds get Knowshon Moreno. We got Yanks/Sox this weekend on TV Saturday and Sunday. Tons of playoff basketball and hockey. Not to mention a sick weather weekend, and I’ll be going golfing Saturday morning. Here’s the schedule, not that anyone cares, but I’ll post it anyways:
7pm — Phils at Marlins
8pm — Magic at Sixers
Teeing it up
3pm — Pens at Flyers
4pm — NFL Draft
7pm — Phils at Marlins
12pm — Phils at Marlins
6pm — Magic at Sixers
Team Preview: Florida Marlins
Projected MLB Rank: 14th (t) — NL Rank: 9th (t) — NL East Rank: 3rd (t) — Record: (82-80)
The Florida Marlins may have silently become one of the biggest threats in the National League. The team’s built of young stars with a lethal combo of electric arms and powerful bats. I would not be suprised at all if they ended up playing playoff baseball–if they could stay healthy.
It starts with their studded young rotation. Ricky Nolasco solidified himself last year as the ace at the end of the season, when they have two other starters that could snag that title in the future as well. Nolasco got even better as the season progressed and finished off his 2008 with a 3.52 ERA, a 15-8 record, and 186 strikeouts next to 42 walks (12 in the second half). I would consider him to be my wild card to win the Cy Young award.
Josh Johnson might be considered the ace if he was healthy last season. In 14 starts he posted seven wins and only one loss. The 25 year old also held a 3.61 ERA and struck out 77 batters. The rotation continues with who I think could be the future ace of this staff, 22 year old Chris Volstad. Volstad came up midway through last season and in 14 starts and a relief appearance he compiled a 2.88 ERA while going 6-4. He rolls groundball outs like it’s his job and should improve his strikeout/walk ratio in 2009. Anibal Sanchez certainly has big punch potential but had a rough ten starts last season. The rotation finishes off with southpaw Andrew Miller, who came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade. He should continue to develop and one day will reach his potential.
The addition of Leo Nunez will help this bullpen. Nunez posted a 2.98 ERA in 45 games last season with the Royals. He even has the potential to move into the closer role if Matt Lindstrom can’t get the job done. Lindstrom saved 5 games last season when Kevin Gregg went down at the end of the season. In 66 total games last season he had a 3.14 ERA and is currently considered Florida’s closer. The rest of the bullpen is average. Logan Kensing and Renyel Pinto both had ERA’s over 4.00 and the addition of Scott Proctor who posted a ERA over 6.00 last year isn’t exactly an improvement.
The lineup is a serious threat. Hanley Ramirez was basically a star in this league before he even played a game in the majors. Don’t be suprised if he surpasses his 33 homeruns and 67 RBIs last season now that it looks like he will be batting in the three spot. Jorge Cantu was a nice suprise last season when he hit 29 homeruns and drove in 95 runs, and he’s only 27. Expect Dan Uggla to continue this season after he hit 32 homers with 92 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage.
Leftfielder Cody Ross is a serious homerun threat and shouldn’t have to platoon this season as he did last year. Look out for him to top his 22 homeruns and 73 RBIs. Jeremy Hermida needs to step up his game if he wants to stick around Miami, or atleast start. He is supposed to be a power and speed threat but looked nothing like that last season with 17 homeruns and six steals.
This will be the first full season for John Baker, Cameron Maybin, and Gaby Sanchez. In 61 games last season, Baker hit .299 with five homers and 32 RBIs and will probably be the Marlins starting catcher come April. Maybin probably won’t hit at the rate he did last season for the eight major league games he played (16 for 32) but he’s said to be a future all star and he’s got speed. Sanchez would be a nice option to open up the season at first base but if he isn’t ready, the Marlins shouldn’t rush him. Cantu could simply start the season at first and the Marlins deep bench could fill the hole at third with Dallas McPherson, Wes Helms, or Emilio Bonifacio.
As I mentioned earlier, I would not be suprised at all to see this team winning the Wild Card. They key is for them to stay healthy and not to strikeout as much. Fredi Gonzalez has done a nice job thus far as the Marlins manager and the league should watch out this year for this team.
Oh yea, They will be staying in Miami now too.
SP Chris Volstad Florida Marlins
Chris Volstad’s rookie campaign was a solid performance. The 22-year-old compiled a 6-4 record with a 2.88 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Volstad is very tall, standing at six feet seven inches, pounds the zone and attacks hitters. The sinkerballer induces a lot of groundballs and has a fastball that tops out at around 93 mph.
In his minor league career, he went 31-26 with a 3.40 ERA over three and a half seasons with the Gulf Coast League Marlins, Jamestown Jammers, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Jupiter Hammerheads, and Carolina Mudcats. He came right to the big leagues last season mid-season and skipped triple-A ball altogether.
His first start in the majors was a memorable one. He went 8 and 2/3 innings in a near shutout in LA against the Dodgers. He shows poise and stays relaxed when he is on the mound. Which is quite a feat for a kid who won’t be 23 until September.
The rotation he is in is one of the best young rotations in the league. As I posted a few entries ago, here is the projected rotation for this year’s Marlins.
RHP Ricky Nolasco (age 26) (15-8 / 3.52 / 186)
RHP Josh Johnson (age 25) (7-1 / 3.61 / 77) in 14 starts
RHP Chris Volstad (age 22) (6-4 / 2.88 / 52) in 14 starts (15 games)
RHP Anibal Sanchez (age 24) (2-5 / 5.57 / 50) in 10 starts
LHP Andrew Miller (age 23) (6-10 / 5.87 / 89) in 20 starts (29 games)
It is right-hander heavy but is loaded with young talent. Nolasco will look to continue is 2008 form. Josh Johnson will be back for a full season and has ace potential. Sanchez will also hopefully be pitching a full season again and Andrew Miller, who has showed flashes of great stuff (but had a down 2008) is still 23 years of age. Pair those pitchers that will keep you in games with the very young and talented offense that they are starting to build around speed–and you will win ballgames.
Pudge Rodriguez has drawn interest from the Marlins. I think that it could be an awesome call for the young pitching staff. Last year Pudge hit .276 with 7 homeruns and 35 RBIs with the Tigers and the Yankees. The Marlins projected rotation is young and as follows:
Ricky Nolasco (age 26) (15-8 / 3.52 / 186)
Josh Johnson (age 25) (7-1 / 3.61 / 77) in 14 starts
Chris Volstad (age 22) (6-4 / 2.88 / 52) in 14 starts (15 games)
Anibal Sanchez (age 24) (2-5 / 5.57 / 50) in 10 starts
Andrew Miller (age 23) (6-10 / 5.87 / 89) in 20 starts (29 games)
Pudge could also coach along upcoming catchers John Baker and Mike Rabelo. They are 28
and 29, respectively. But Rabelo has barely over two years of MLB experience and Baker came up last year so I think that Pudge could definately show them some things behind the dish. It may be an investment the Marlins aren’t willing to make but I think they should do it regardless because of the help that it would serve down the line for both the pitching staff and the inexperienced catchers.
Ben Sheets also revealed today that he intends to have surgery on his elbow and would be shut down for the entire 2009 season. Not even a week ago, he had a deal practically done with the Rangers and now he won’t even be toeing the rubber in Arlington come April. Not only that, but the Brewers may be the ones that could be paying for the surgery.
Prior to this announcement, I was eager to analyze the AL West and try to pick an early winner. This division has quietly become the winningest division in baseball over the past few years and this year may have been an exciting race to watch and very well could still be. The Angels got worse, the A’s got better, and the Rangers almost had pitching. The Rangers offense is still among the best in the entire league and to get Sheets could have had the potential to put them up top the west. It’s really ashame.
So where will Sheets end up in 2010?
The New York Yankees. After CC repeats his 2004 performance, AJ Burnett has a career conflicting injury, Joba goes back to the DL, Phil Hughes goes to the minors for good, and Wang gets running again — they will have no other choice. Actually just kidding Yankees fans. Who knows where Sheets will end up? We still have a whole 2009 season to look forward to.
I’ll leave you with this..