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Citrus Series preview, part two: Giancarlo Stanton is really good

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Oh boy.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

At 7:10 this evening, the Tampa Bay Rays will face the Miami Marlins. Daniel Kishi got things started in part one with a look at where the Marlins are as a team right now, and at the matchup history for each player. Here's part two, looking at the matchup projections for the series.

The injury bug has hit the Rays hard to start the season, so they'll be extremely shorthanded in this series. They're currently without four of their top six or seven starting pitchers (Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, Alex Colome), and also without their two best left-handed hitters (John Jaso and James Loney). To compensate, the Rays have promoted first baseman Allan Dykstra and outfielder Mikie Mahtook up form Durham, and they will take the non-traditional approach of starting reliever Steve Geltz in game one, and then pinch-hitting for the pitchers spot early. Geltz will be followed, most likely, by Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese.

That extra bit of offense may be important, as the Rays will be facing a team in Miami that can hit the ball. Let's step through it. Follow this link to an interactive graph showing the matchups for every game.

The projections are made using a tool Jason Hanselman of Dock of the Rays and I created together. It combines regressed platoon splits based off The Book and Bojan Kaprovica's work, with Steamer projections, and uses a log5 method to calculate the matchups. Overall projections and projections vs. average lefties and righties are park-neutral (meaning everyone is on the same footing). Projected matchups are placed in Marlins Park (so both teams are also on the same footing, but it's scaled slightly different than the overall projections).

Dan Haren vs. The Rays Bullpen

I'm not comfortable using my projections on a bunch of relievers with very limited major league playing time (particularly because of how I'm projecting the pitcher side). So instead I'll just show you the matchups for the Marlins against average lefties and average righties. You should think of Geltz as being slightly above this average, and Ramirez and Andriese as probably a tad below. Once we get into the back of the Rays bullpen, those guys are all above average.

Here's Haren vs. an average righty:

Haren v RHP

So, one of these things is not like the others. Here's the real text of a gchat monologue I had with Danny as I was running these numbers:

Me: Stanton is so ridiculously scary for Archer and Karns

Me: let's hope Arch's changeup is on point

Me: oh god

Me: that's just how scary he is normally

See, I saw the .399 wOBA projection against an average righty, and just assumed that was an opposite-handed matchup. In this brave new world where league-average wOBA is .310, that's beyond ridiculous. Forget Steve Pearce from the first series, this is MVP-level. It's hall-of-fame-case level if you can sustain it for a few years. In case you were wondering, it's two points higher then Miguel Cabrera's projection against an average righty. The Rays don't face guys like this very often. Enjoy it?

Oh, and don't forget the lefty Christian Yelich is better than Evan Longoria in this situation, and the Marlins have two righties in Michael Morse and Marcell Ozuna with a better projection than the Rays second best hitter (Steven Souza Jr.).

Here's Haren vs. an average lefty:

Haren-LHP

So the moral of this story is easy to see. Have Jeff Beliveau face Yelich and then cross your fingers for the other good Marlins righties.

Jarred Cosart vs. Chris Archer

Cosart vs. Archer

There are two bits of good news here:

  1. The good news is that Chris Archer will be able to neutralize all those strong Marlins righties (not counting the one thing we've already talked about that is not like the others). I've got him as being 9% better against righties than is the average righty, which is a pretty big number.
  2. Jarred Cosart is not as good as he looks in this chart. Over the 240 innings he's pitched in the majors, he's beaten his FIP by a modest amount, and he's beaten other more dependable metrics like xFIP and SIERA by an even larger amount. This isn't anywhere near enough of a sample size for us to start calling him a "FIP beater." I'd say he's set to come crashing back to earth. My projections for pitchers are sort of crude, though, and they don't know this. It would be nice to have Loney and Jaso, of course, but this is a very winnable game.

Henderson Alvarez vs. Nate Karns

Alvarez vs. Karns

That thing I said about missing Jaso and Loney? It's even more true in this game. Henderson Alvarez is a guy with a pretty wide split for a starter. I've got him pegged as five percent worse than the average lefty against lefties, but four percent better than the average righty against righties. That makes this the extremely rare situation, where Kevin Kiermaier should be basically as good as Evan Longoria with the bat.

This is a tough series overall, as the Marlins are a pretty good baseball team, particularly on offense. The Rays will need to have some guys step up to fill the holes left by their injured stars, and they will need to play mistake-free baseball. Otherwise, it could be a long weekend.