clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Florida Marlins (5/19-5/21)

New, comments

The Enemy: Florida Marlins

Marlins' Record: 11-28, 5th Place in NL East (12.5 GB)

Series Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg

Citrus Series All-Time:
Overall-FLA; 15-28
Home-FLA; 9-11
Last Season-FLA; 0-6
Last Season Home-FLA; 0-5
RAYS are 56-88 (.394) all-time in Interleague play, including 15-3 in 2004

Series Dates:
Today-7:15; FSN Florida
Saturday-7:15; NO TV
Sunday-1:15; RAYS TV/PAX

Series Pitching Matchups

Today

FLA-RH Brian Moehler (1-4, 8.23)

RAYS-LH Casey Fossum (1-2, 5.24)

Saturday

FLA-RH Josh Johnson (3-2, 2.93)

RAYS-RH Doug Waechter (0-2, 7.04)

Sunday

FLA-LH Dontrelle Willis (1-4, 5.53)

RAYS-LH Scott Kazmir (6-2, 2.73)

Series Prediction: Rays take two of three

The Enemy: Florida Marlins

Marlins' Record: 11-28, 5th Place in NL East (12.5 GB)

Series Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg

Citrus Series All-Time:
Overall-FLA; 15-28
Home-FLA; 9-11
Last Season-FLA; 0-6
Last Season Home-FLA; 0-5
1998-FLA; 1-3
1999-FLA; 1-5
2000-TIED; 3-3
2001-FLA; 2-4
2002-RAYS; 4-2
2003-FLA; 0-3
2004-RAYS; 4-2
RAYS are 56-88 (.394) all-time in Interleague play, including 15-3 in 2004

Series Dates:
Today-7:15; FSN Florida
Saturday-7:15; NO TV
Sunday-1:15; RAYS TV/PAX

-All games are broadcast on the Rays Radio Network, with flagship station 1250 AM WHNZ in Tampa/St. Pete, and all televised games pick up the SAP feed from the Rays' Spanish Radio Network, which broadcasts all games on Tampa/St. Pete's WMGG 820 AM

Series Pitching Matchups

Today

FLA-RH Brian Moehler (1-4, 8.23)

RAYS-LH Casey Fossum (1-2, 5.24)

Saturday

FLA-RH Josh Johnson (3-2, 2.93)

RAYS-RH Doug Waechter (0-2, 7.04)

Sunday

FLA-LH Dontrelle Willis (1-4, 5.53)

RAYS-LH Scott Kazmir (6-2, 2.73)

Series History

-One of the least talked about rivalry series, and often the most cited one in arguments against the continuation of interleague play, the lack of competitive games have dominated the Citrus Series since it began in 1998, when the Rays were an expansion team and the Marlins were the worst team in baseball coming off of a fire sale. The two Florida expansion teams have long suffered from cheap payroll, poor fan support, and poor performance, although the Marlins have had two World Series titles and four legitimate contending years in 13 seasons since the franchise began play in 1993. The Rays have been swept in the season series twice, including last year and a lone three game series in South Florida in 2003. Dating back to 2004, the Rays have lost seven straight games against the Marlins. The Fish have also never brought an attendance spike to Tropicana Field, though large quantities of fans did show up when the Marlins happened to be a Rays opponent during their 30-10 run in the middle of the 2004 season. Here is a look, season by season, at how the Citrus Series has gone...

1998-The Marlins win the first intra-Florida game in major league baseball history, prevailing over the Rays 3-2 in 12 innings. The Rays would rebound the next day for a 6-4 win at home before the series headed back down to South Florida, where the Marlins swept the last two game set.

1999-The Rays are swept at home, including one game in which they lost 10-0, and would win only one game in the season set, a 9-8 final in a road game on July 10th.

2000-The Rays win and lose two of three games in the home and road set, respectively, and draw a series record 42,823 to their June 10th contest.

2001-The Rays are swept in South Florida, but win two of three at home, including a 5-4 final in 11 innings on July 6th.

2002-The Rays win the season series for the first time, as they take two of three at home and on the road, including a rain-soaked 14 inning contest in South Florida on June 14th that takes three and a half hours to complete and ends up a 4-3 final (I was there). The June 16th game draws a series record low 9,380 to Pro Player Stadium.

2003-The Rays opt to drop their home series against Florida for the Atlanta Braves, so the teams play only three games, all in South Florida, and all Marlins victories, including a 3-1 final in 11 innings on June 20th, and a 2-0 final in five innings the next day, completed early due to rain.

2004-Two of the three interleague losses the Rays suffer in 2004 come to the Marlins, but they still win the season series for just the second time as they take two of three at home, and on the road. The Rays also draw crowds of 23,000+ for all three home games, and Dewon Brazelton falls 1.1 innings short of a no-hitter as Mike Lowell doubles to break up the no-hit bid that remains the closest the Rays have ever come to putting a zero in the 'H' column, but the Rays still win 2-0.

2005-The Rays drop all six contests to Florida, though five of the six games were decided by three runs or less.

Scouting Report:

-The Marlins held the second firesale in franchise history, selling off anything not nailed to floor as they team gets payroll down to a MLB low of $14 million. Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Luis Castillo, Carlos Delgado, Juan Encarnacion, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Lowell, and Juan Pierre all kiss South Florida goodbye. While not all of them were traded, some of them were, and nearly all of those traded were dealt for prospects, as Mike Jacobs, Hanley Ramirez, and Yusmerio Petit were among the prospects added, complimenting an already solid base that included Jeremy Hermida, Scott Olsen, and Josh Willingham. The only key players of note the Fish did keep were ace Dontrelle Willis and offensive stud Miguel Cabrera, with Cabrera being the only player in last season's opening day lineup. This is certainly not what Joe Girardi was expecting to have as a base when he took the team's managerial job last October.

On top of it all, the Marlins' management announced that they would be looking into relocating the franchise due to poor attendance and the lack of willingness on the state's part to fund a new stadium. San Antonio, Portland, and Las Vegas were all mentioned as possible relocation sites, though San Antonio's offer of relocation money expired on Monday without a Florida acceptance. Considering the lack of a no-brainer relocation site, the expires San Antonio offer, and MLB's unwillingness to let a team into Las Vegas, you can expect the Marlins to remain in South Florida for at least a little longer.  

This season, the Marlins have been what you would expect them to be. They have an 11-28 record, the worst in the National League, though their offense avoids the bottom three in most categories. They have been led by, surprise surprise, Miguel Cabrera, who has put up a 1.005 OPS for the Fish this season. Josh Willingham also has contributed greatly, if not with his defense, then with his .906 OPS, while Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez have OPSs of .829 and .875, respectively. Mike Jacobs, Migeul Olivo, Jeremy Hermida, Reggie Abercrombie, and veteran Wes Helms have also contributed nicely, as each have OPSs above .700.

Once you start looking at the pitching, then you have problems. They are last in the NL in ERA, runs, and earned runs, while they have walked the second most batters and hit the most. And with the departures of Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, an added burden was placed on Dontrelle Willis to pitch like an ace this year, and he has not come through. In nine starts, he has a 5.53 ERA and a K:BB of 33:19, not great, but not ace-like. He has also hit an NL-high seven batters, and is tied for tops in the major leagues in that department, with only our own Casey Fossum matching him. Brian Mohler has also been awful, pitching to an 8.23 ERA this season, and Josh Johnson is pretty much the only decent pitcher on Florida's staff, putting up an ERA of 2.93 in 10 games and three starts this season, though his control needs work. And the bullpen has not found their Todd Jones this season as the late innings have suffered with Joe Borowski, the ex-Ray, picking up the closer duties. He is barely staying above the water on K:BB and has a 4.70 ERA.

Series Outlook:

-It is scary for me to actually say this, but the Rays pitching has actually outpaced the hitting the last few weeks, as the cellar-dwelling offense has put up more than five runs once since last month. Alas, the Marlins pitching might be just what the doctor didn't prescribe, but what Rush Limbaugh went out and bought on the black market anyways. The pitching matchup today blatantly favors the Rays, as the terrible scuffballer Brian Moehler takes the mound against the suddenly consistent Casey Fossum.

Saturday features Doug Waechter, the lone blemish in the Rays starting rotation against Josh Johnson, the lone bright spot on the Marlins' staff. That is the only game I can see the Rays dropping in this series, and if the Rays offense can actually outpace Waechter's pitching and expose Johnson as a fraud, I may end up bringing a broom to the Trop on Sunday and not look crazy doing it. Besides, don't forget your fish hook giveaway!

Sunday features one of the best pitching matchups you will ever see the Rays participate in, and one of the best you will see all season in baseball. I am definitely looking forward to going out to the ballpark this Sunday, and each of you should too. Plus, a youth baseball cap giveaway doesn't hurt. And with Willis' struggles thi season and Kazmir pitching extremely well, I can see this one going to the Rays.  

Series Prediction: Rays take two of three