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Rays vs. Marlins Series Preview

What does it even mean to play a sub-.500 team?

MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays head on the road after an impressive 8-1 homestand that saw them sweep the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, and cap off the festivities winning three of four against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros.

The Miami Marlins took a series against the New York Mets, but they have lost four of their last six. On the bright side they got out of the National League cellar by defeating the Mets.

The Matchups:

Monday 7:10 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs Wei-Yin Chen
Tuesday 7:10 PM: TBD vs Elieser Hernandez
Wednesday 1:10 PM: TBD vs Trevor Richards

Start things off against a familiar foe.

Marlins Starters Last 3 Years

Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher GS IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Wei-Yin Chen 55 308.1 18.3% 5.9% 1.40 4.70 4.42
Elieser Hernandez 5 35.2 14.1% 9.0% 1.26 5.05 4.96
Trevor Richards 10 48.0 20.5% 10.5% 0.75 5.06 3.9

Most will remember Wei-Yin Chen as a member of the Baltimore Orioles from 2012-15. He signed a five year deal in free agency with the Marlins, but has spent most of his first three years with elbow injuries. In 2018, he has a 6.14 ERA and 5.37 FIP through 55.2 innings. His last outing was one of his best of the year, as he allowed one run through 6.0 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Elieser Hernandez will make his sixth start of the year. He’s bounced between the bullpen and rotation after being selected in the rule five draft this past winter. He’s posted a 5.05 ERA and 4.96 FIP through his first 35.2 innings in the majors. In his last start he allowed two runs in 4.0 innings to the Diamondbacks.

Trevor Richards will make his 11th career start. He has a 5.06 ERA and 3.90 FIP through his first 48.0 major league innings. He’s had a problem with a walk rate (about 10%), even though he typically posted a number half that in the minors. In his last start he allowed three runs in 4.0 innings to the Diamondbacks.

Kyle Barraclough has dominating results.

Marlins Relievers Last 3 Years

Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Pitcher G IP K% BB% HR/9 ERA FIP
Kyle Barraclough 203 199.1 31.2% 14.1% 0.41 2.53 2.99
Brad Ziegler 191 187.2 16.0% 7.6% 0.48 3.50 3.62
Drew Steckenrider 76 70.1 32.5% 11.2% 0.77 2.82 3.01
Tayron Guerero 41 41.0 28.2% 13.3% 0.66 4.61 3.45
Adam Conley 22 26.2 22.1% 5.8% 1.35 2.70 4.25
Drew Rucinski 13 20.1 21.1% 7.8% 1.77 5.75 5.14
Brett Graves 3 3.1 15.4% 0.0% 0.00 2.70 1.91

The Marlins have had one of the worst results from their bullpen with a 4.76 ERA and 4.21 FIP while throwing the second most innings in the majors leagues. Their 331.0 innings is bested by only the Rays’ 370.0.

Kyle Barraclough has posted a dominant 0.99 ERA even if the FIP isn’t as great at 3.25. His strikeout rate is down to 28.2%. He’ll give more than his fair share of walks and give you opportunities, but mostly is able to get out of trouble.

Brad Ziegler was one of their biggest bullpen additions in the winter of 2016 on a two-year deal. His first year in Miami was not good. He posted a career high 4.79 ERA, but a 3.73 FIP suggested things might not be as bad. This year has been worse with a 5.12 ERA and 4.74 FIP.

Tayron Guerrero and Drew Steckenrider are big arms that strike out a ton of batters, but they also walk quite a few.

Thanks to 7.0 strong innings from Dan Straily yesterday afternoon, the Marlins bullpen is at full strength.

Where did all the outfielders go?

Marlins Batters Last 3 Years

Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Batter PA HR SB BB% K% AVE OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Starlin Castro 1700 48 11 4.8% 18.9% 0.281 0.316 0.427 0.318 98
JT Realmuto 1623 45 27 5.5% 18.2% 0.289 0.336 0.455 0.339 112
Derek Dietrich 1428 38 2 7.1% 21.8% 0.269 0.352 0.438 0.341 114
Justin Bour 1377 68 1 11.6% 21.8% 0.265 0.349 0.482 0.351 121
Cameron Maybin 1337 19 60 9.3% 19.3% 0.260 0.331 0.370 0.308 92
Miguel Rojas 979 10 9 6.7% 12.0% 0.266 0.323 0.356 0.296 84
Brian Anderson 461 5 2 9.3% 20.6% 0.283 0.358 0.402 0.333 110
JB Shuck 459 4 8 6.5% 11.5% 0.210 0.264 0.295 0.247 52
JT Riddle 360 7 0 4.4% 21.9% 0.251 0.282 0.377 0.280 72
Lewis Brinson 355 12 2 5.6% 30.7% 0.174 0.232 0.333 0.243 50
Bryan Holaday 269 4 0 4.8% 17.5% 0.220 0.265 0.324 0.256 55
Yadiel Rivera 191 0 1 9.9% 30.9% 0.186 0.267 0.222 0.220 32

Last year the Marlins possessed one of the most dynamic outfields in all of baseball. They traded the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Marcell Ozuna was sent to St. Louis. Christian Yelich and his ridiculously team friendly contract was sent to Milwaukee.

This year the Marlins offense has been one of the weakest in baseball. They have hit .247/.314/.375 and put up a 89 wRC+. The Marlins have averaged 3.62 runs per game.

JT Realmuto has carried the offense ever since he returned from an early season disabled list stint. He has put up a 147 wRC+ in 259 plate appearances.

Derek Dietrich (125 wRC+), Brian Anderson (115 wRC+), and Justin Bour (114 wRC+) have provided offensive support.

Lewis Brinson (53 wRC+) has really struggled in 300 plate appearances.

The Rays need to take care of business against teams that they are better than.

They survived a tough June by going 14-14 against teams that generally were better than them. Now the schedule softens. They need to continue to fight and take advantage of the situation in front of them.