Three Strikes: Miami Marlins vs Tampa Bay Rays

With Miami’s offense already playing the part of zombies heading into this weekend’s Alligator Alley Series with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, they’re more than set for Friday’s frightful promotion.  But can they turn that around enough to start to right the ship? Let’s take a look at three reasons that might happen, and three reasons you might be better off binge watching past seasons of The Walking Dead this weekend.

Why Miami Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- While Miami’s team batting average of .202 is horrible, it is exactly as horrible as Tampa’s own team mark.  However, Miami’s BABIP is significantly higher, and Wednesday’s game saw an unusually high number of hard line outs.  Look for Miami to start hitting em where they aint this weekend.
  • Strike 2- I think it’s fair to view the Mat Latos implosion as an abstraction.  Adjusting for the taking of that liberty, Miami’s starting pitching has been better than Tampa’s thus far, and is much more settled than the Rays’ shaky rotation.  Trust Miami’s rotation to win out; if it helps, Latos isn’t pitching.
  • Strike 3- Miami’s all time interleague track record of. 515 should give some confidence, especially when rounded out with the knowledge they went 4-0 against the Rays last season.  And while the Fish haven’t been particularly strong out of the gate, only one of these clubs improved in the offseason.  It wasn’t Tampa.

Why Tampa Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Tampa’s bullpen has been excellent, with a 2.00 era through nine innings of work thus far.  Well ahead of Miami’s mark, Miami will have to get out to the lead early to win.  Miami hasn’t had a lead yet this season.  Look out if close late.
  • Strike 2- All time, Tampa only trails Miami 46-47 in the series.  This manufactured rivalry has always been a close one big picture- not the type of matchup you want when you’re struggling.
  • Strike 3- We mentioned Miami’s excellent defensive start above.  The problem is Tampa has been just as good.  Same zero errors, same perfect fielding percentage.  Just a better team ERA, more runs scored, less runs allowed….all of this heading into a series where Tampa has the blessing of low expectations while Miami is burdened with all the pressure offseason expectations and this season struggles have combined to create.

Prediction: This is really close. Again, identical batting averages. Tampa has one less hit.  Truthfully both bullpens have been great; if you remove that weird non-save 4 spot 9th inning that Cishek and Phelps combined for, Miami’s has actually been better.  Equally solid defense.  I don’t see a sweep here- Miami should definitely get that first win. As for the series though, Friday’s winner takes it.

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