Three Strikes: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Miami Marlins

Sunday afternoon saw the Marlins end their current homestand the same way they ended their last one- with a series win.  What likely wasn’t seen coming at the start of the month was the five series losses (lets call the Giants split what it was) that would come between them.  Does Miami have what it takes to keep the ball rolling- or will the Fish fall flat against the Pittsburgh Pirates? Let’s dive in.

Why Miami Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Defense.  Back to Being The Best.  The Marlins reclaimed the top spot this weekend, fielding baseball’s best defensive squad (couldn’t quite decide if there’s a fielding related pun in that or not).  Pittsburgh barely cracks the top twenty, with their defensive prowess playing no small part in their place in the standings.
  • Strike 2- Giancarlo Pounds The Pirates.  With a .323 career average, there are only two teams in baseball Giancarlo Stanton has at least 100 plate appearances against that he has hit better. Might just be the medicine needed to turn things around for someone who has looked like they might have a hard time hitting home plate since Mike Redmond was ousted.
  • Strike 3- Power of the Unknown.  There’s a pretty good chance Miami will trot out their top two pitching prospects for the last two games of the series.  This will also come up as a major plus on the Pirates side of the Three Strikes ledger.  But this could break Miami’s way, with lack of career at bats and film combining with genuine talent to befuddle the Pirates offense enough to give the Marlins some spark.

Why Pittsburgh Wins The Series

  • Strike 1- Pitching.  Ummm, where would you like to start?  The Pirates have the second best ERA in baseball.  Miami….does not.  The Pirates bring a top flight closer into the series, and sport 11 saves as a team.  That number in a vacuum isn’t too impressive; compare it to Miami’s MLB worst five saves, and you get a lot more respectful.  The Marlins do miss A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano, but will likely be throwing two rookie pitchers into the fire in the series with 3/5 of the Opening Day rotation on the DL.
  • Strike 2- Offense.  Miami hits more, but Pittsburgh gets more out of it when they do connect, edging Miami in runs, RBIs, and homers.  Andrew McCutchen has homered in consecutive contests, showing signs of heating up.  This matchup of baseball’s two best outfields could be a lot of fun to watch if the Marlins bring their bats to play.  But hits have been very hard to come by of late for Miami, whereas Pittsburgh has been offering up steady production- if not always wins- these past couple weeks.
  • Strike 3- The Light at the End of the Tunnel.  Having just wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Mets- wouldn’t it have been nice if that was exciting for us Fish fans- the Pirates find themselves where Miami agonizingly sat on three occasions prior to the massive meltdown: one game below .500.  Bottom line, the Pirates have momentum and something clear cut and tangible to play for. The Marlins have the hardly inconsequential but hardly comparable impetus of professional pride for the time being.  WIth a clubhouse still on somewhat shaky ground, not sure pride will be enough to get it done.
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