The Mets and the Marlins are playing to stay out of the NL East cellar at this point, and New York has played well enough recently to be two games up on Miami. The two squads will face each other 10 times in the season’s final two months, including the final series of the year, meaning the fight for fourth place could come down to the wire. If the Marlins finish in front of the Mets, the players highlighted below will have likely played a big role.
Brian’s Breakout: Brian Anderson’s rookie campaign has to be seen as a positive development for the future of the Miami franchise. He leads all rookies with 3.04 WARP, just ahead of Washington’s Juan Soto (3.03). Part of the key to his success this year has been avoiding strikeouts (16.3 K%), which seems to be mostly supported by his swinging strike rate of 22.6% (his K% is 29th percentile among qualified batters and his swinging strike rate is 37th percentile, suggesting his K% may regress a little). Anderson has not been viewed as a good defender (-6.4 FRAA in 140 games), but he has played third and right field at the major league level, offering some positional flexibility. While Soto will probably pass Anderson in WARP before the season ends (Soto’s production has come in nearly half the plate appearances), the Marlins seem to have found a building block for the future.
Base on Balls Bullpen: Miami has two qualified relievers in the top 15 for BB% in Kyle Barraclough (13.9%) and Tayron Guerrero (12.5%). Walks have been a trend for the Marlins’ bullpen, as they have had eight different relievers throw 15 or more innings with a 10% walk rate or higher. The team as a whole has thrown the third most walks in the majors (the Mets have only thrown the 20th most). This should benefit the Mets offense, which has taken the tenth most walks of any team. Watch Jose Baustista, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo especially, as they all have walk rates greater than 12%.
Chen’s Comeback: Wei-Yin Chen’s time with the Marlins has been marred by injury and he has only thrown 245 innings in over two and a half years with Miami. This year, his production has been especially lackluster (5.48 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 5.93 DRA in 88.7 innings), but he has shown some signs of bounce back recently. His velocity in July averaged over 92.5 mph for the first time since 2015 and his swing and miss rate on the fastball followed suit, jumping up above 10% for the month. Unsurprisingly, Chen’s K-BB% also saw an increase above 10% for the first month in 2018. His velocity has held strong at 92.4 mph so far in August, so perhaps his overall numbers will start to follow some of his underlying stats. Some Mets who have had success against fastballs in that range are Wilmer Flores and Devin Mesoraco (both of whom have hit better than .400 on four-seamers 91-94 mph). Chen is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday.
The Good: JT Riddle’s FRAA per plate appearance (really obscure stat, I know) is the best among all non-catcher position players with 50 or more games played.
The Bad: Miami has the fewest number of doubles as a team with 160. The Mets have the sixth fewest with 178.
The Ugly: If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, JT Riddle’s BB% of 3.4% would be the fifth worst in the majors.
After a strong July, Zack Wheeler’s average fastball velocity in 2018 (96.5 mph) is now the highest yearly average it has been since he reached the majors.
Photo credit: Jason Vinlove – USA Today Sports