None of us saw the Braves starting 5-1. Even after falling to the Mets yesterday due to excessive Juan Jaime usage, the Braves surprisingly sit at the top of the division and are in position to build upon an impressive start with another series against the Marlins.
After only scraping together three runs in the season opening series against the Braves, the Marlins’ bats came to life against the Rays, dropping fifteen runs across two games against a competent Tampa Bay pitching staff, though they were shutout in between those two solid hitting performances. Despite the relative breakout, the Marlins numbers through six games tell the story of a relatively punchless team. Even with a .281 BABiP, the fish sport a 64 wRC+ as team, largely due to a single homer and a .076 ISO. Once Giancarlo Stanton awakes from his early season slumber – he’s struck out in a third of his plate appearances and is the proud owner of an .067 ISO – the Marlins offense should feature an interesting collection of capable multi-tool guys like Christian Yelich and helpless victims like Adeiny Hechavarria.
The Braves will attempt to keep the Marlins bats in check with Shelby Miller, Trevor Cahill, and Eric Stults. Miller and Stults struggled with command a bit their first time out, either allowing free passes or leaving bad fastballs up in the zone to David Wright, but are generally able to limit walks. Cahill, making his Braves debut, has struggled with control the last two years, giving up over 4 BB/9. Though a late addition to the roster, mechanical flaws are supposedly at fault for the deterioration of his repertoire, and time with noted reclamation expert Roger McDowell could prove helpful. Outside of Miller, strikeouts will be in short supply, but as long as the Braves staff can avoid giving up too many extra base hits, they should be able to minimize any damage.
Miami will counter with Mat Latos, Tom Koehler, and Dan Haren, three guys Atlanta should be quite familiar with. The Braves shelled Latos the first time out to the tune of seven earned runs in less than an inning. Injuries may have kept Latos from getting into top game shape during the spring, but he’s also seen a precipitous decline in velocity since his halcyon days with the Padres, and was clocked at 89-90 MPH regularly against the Braves. Haren’s last good year was in 2011 with the Angels, when he posted 6.4 WAR in nearly 240 innings, but I loathe seeing him as a probable, as it seems he always finds a way to hold the Braves’ bats at bay for 6+ innings of frustrating baseball. Across the last 3 seasons he’s put up a sterling 1.71 ERA against Atlanta, validating my decision to write the previous sentence without fact checking. Tom Koehler is not nearly interesting enough to justify writing about, and as such I’m fully prepared for an 8 inning, 1 run performance.
The Braves swept the Marlins in Miami, and four days later, not too much has changed. Despite throwing the back-end of the rotation in the series, the simulations favour Atlanta in all three games, no doubt thanks to hustle and grit. In order to better disseminate the information we painstakingly took minutes to compile, we give you the Series Preview Infographic.