The Marlins come into town after blowing a five-run ninth inning lead in Atlanta Sunday afternoon. The pitching is young and inexperienced, and that has shown through in the walk totals, as Miami is tied for third in the league in bases on balls (187, Mets pitchers are 25th at 135). There have been some bright spots on the pitching staff, though, like two of the players mentioned below, but even their success has been clouded by shaky control. Hopefully the Mets hitters will be able to feast on those struggles. Some of the pitchers to monitor are listed below in this edition of the stats preview.
Smith’s Walks: Caleb Smith is scheduled to start the opener of the series tonight, and is looking to rebound from a shaky start against the Dodgers his last time out. The former Rule 5 pick’s kryptonite has been walks, as in the three starts he has allowed four or more free passes and put up a combined 12.96 ERA. When he limits the walks to three or fewer, his ERA is at 2.10. This is not shocking by any means, but keeping the walk numbers down will be especially key for Smith’s success, as he has the fourth highest BB/9 among pitchers with at least 40 innings. Things have worked out thus far, as he is tied for the team lead in pitching WARP at 1.0, but he will likely not be able to continue to walk hitters at his current rate and remain successful.
Realmuto’s Return: The last time the Mets and Marlins matched up, J.T. Realmuto was still rehabbing from a spring injury. Now that he is healthy, he has resumed his position as one of the top catchers in the game. He has already accumulated 1.4 WARP, more than any other two Miami position players combined. His framing has not been at the level it was last year (16.1 Framing Runs in 2017 vs. 0.1 so far in 2018), and that provided much of his defensive value, but his offense has more than made up for the defensive drop off (.329 TAv).
Tayron’s Tighter Control: Naming Marlins relievers can be a fun trivia game, but naming good Marlins relievers can be especially tricky. That is due more to the fact that the well-traveled relievers like Brad Zeigler and Junichi Tazawa (recently DFA’d) have been abysmal, while the younger, lesser known guys have carried the bullpen. One such player is Tayron Guerrero, a former Padres farmhand who has excelled in his rookie campaign. He has a 13.7 K/9, a team best 1.85 DRA and a bullpen best 0.7 WARP through 20.1 innings. He seems to have reigned in his control, as his BB/9 is below four after sitting above seven across three levels last season. If Guerrero can continue to limit the walks, his stuff could make him an elite late-inning option for the Fish.
The Good: Three of the Marlins’ top five relievers (based on usage) have struck out over 30% of batters faced (Guerrero – 34.8%, Barraclough – 30.2% and Steckenrider – 34.6%).
The Bad: Starlin Castro has hit into 5.6 more double plays than expected, second worst in the majors.
The Ugly: Marlins’ baserunners have only succeeded on stolen base attempts 52.9% of the time, which is dead last in the league (Mets are 19th at 70.8%).
Christian Colon, a recent Mets minor league signing, may not ever make an impact on the 2018 team, but he has already altered the history of the franchise. If you do not remember, he was the Royal whose 12th inning single drove in the winning run in the series clinching Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. Here is to hoping that he still has some magic left, just in favor of the blue and orange this time.
Photo credit: Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports