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Series Preview: Red Sox vs. Marlins

A look at the upcoming two-game set.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation Blog

Fish Stripes

The Opponent in one sentence

The Marlins are one of the very worst teams in baseball in a clear rebuilding year, boasting the lowest-scoring offense in the National League while allowing the second most runs in the NL.

Record

53-79

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 2, Marlins 0

Trend

Relative to where they’ve been for most of the year, the Marlins are actually trending way up. Miami is coming off a series in which they split with the NL East-leading Braves. Prior to that, they split a two-game set with the Yankees and took two of three from the Nationals. In all, they have won five of their last nine games.

Pitching Matchups

8/28: Brian Johnson vs. Jose Ureña, 7:10 PM ET

The Red Sox are in need of a win on Tuesday in a big way, but they won’t be sending their hottest pitcher to the mound. Johnson has had a solid year for the Sox, but after some unspectacular outings of late his ERA on the year is up to 4.12. The good news with the lefty is that, even with some relatively disappointing outings of late he is keeping the Red Sox in games. He has allowed only three runs in each of his last two starts, though the last one only lasted 4 13 innings. Johnson will generally throw strikes, and for him it will simply be a matter of avoiding too many fat pitches that result in hard contact. Johnson’s first appearance of the season back on April 2 came against the Marlins and he tossed six innings of one-run ball in that game.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ureña has been in the news lately, but not for reasons you’d generally be looking for. The Marlins righty is just coming off a suspension after hitting young Braves star Ronald Acuña for....being good at baseball. It was dumb. Either way, he’s back for this game after six days off, and he’s ostensibly the best Marlins starter. The ace of Miami’s staff isn’t an ace in the true sense of the word, though, pitching to a 4.50 ERA on the year with a 4.04 FIP and a 4.07 DRA. He has some impressive stuff, but for some reason it doesn’t really miss bats. If he could ever start getting more strikeouts he could take a big leap forward as he keeps the ball on the ground and doesn’t walk too many guys, but he hasn’t been able to take that step. He is coming off a phenomenal start in which he allowed just one run in a complete game against the Nationals. He also had success against Boston in his second start of the year, allowing just one run over seven innings of work. Ureña will feature a high-90s fastball along with a slider and a changeup.

8/29: David Price vs. Trevor Richards, 6:35 PM ET

Chris Sale has started a throwing program and is working his way back, but in the meantime the Red Sox have been able to fall back on David Price as a legitimate ace. He’s pitching as well as he ever has with Boston, and it’s not particularly close. He’s had a lot of great outings of late, but his last one against Cleveland to salvage a split was particularly great when he tossed eight shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He’s been really good for most of the year, but particularly over his last seven starts when he has a 1.50 ERA over 48 innings with 48 strikeouts and only seven walks.

Richards is a 25-year-old rookie, and while he certainly wasn’t an overly hyped first-year pitcher he is having a solid year. Well, I suppose it depends on which metrics you trust most. By ERA, he has been mediocre at best with a 4.23 mark in a pitchers park playing NL lineups. However, his peripherals tell a better story as he’s striking out over a batter per inning and keeping the ball in the yard. It’s helped lead to a 3.77 FIP and a 3.72 DRA. That being said, he can get into some trouble with control and his flyball tendencies may not play as well outside of Miami. Still, Richards has been much better of late with a 2.77 ERA over his last seven starts with 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 39 innings. The righty will throw a low-90s fastball along with a changeup and a curveball.

Old Friends

None.

Notable Position Players

J.T. Realmuto is far and away the Marlins best player right now, though it’s probably fair to assume he’ll be dealt this winter. The catcher is one of the very best in baseball, showing improvements behind the dish while performing with the bat. Although he doesn’t draw many walks, he’ll put the ball in play, and more often than not he’ll do so with strong contact.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Anderson has been a somewhat surprisingly solid rookie for the Marlins this year, though his lack of power holds his ceiling down a bit. Still, he’s been tremendous at getting on base.

Starlin Castro was part of the return from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton deal, and he’s been solid enough with his aggressive hitting style, though he also hasn’t hit for much power.

Derek Dietrich will play all over the diamond and can put good wood on the ball at the plate but he also doesn’t have the best plate discipline.

Rafael Ortega was just called up and so far he’s showed off great plate discipline and not too much else.

Austin Dean is another recent call-up who is showing early power but struggling in other aspects of his game.

JT Riddle will put the ball in play, but he doesn’t hit for too much power and his success on balls in play has been minimal at best.

Miguel Rojas has been something of a super utility player, but lately he’s been in the lineup more often than not and he’s another low-power player who puts the ball in play.

Bullpen Snapshot

Drew Steckenrider is the closest thing the Rays have to a true closer right now, and while he has a big ceiling the young righty has yet to put it all together. His overall numbers are solid, he’s just trying to find the consistency needed with this kind of high-leverage role.

Tayron Guerrero and Kyle Barraclough will also appear late in games and both righties have big-time stuff but they pair it with maddening bouts of poor command that result in runs too often for their role.

Adam Conley has transitioned to a relief role after serving as a medicore starter earlier in this career, and the transition has gone well. There have certainly been some growing pains but the lefty looks much more effective in short stints.

Injuries

Martin Prado has been out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, among others, and the Marlins are planning to hold him out until rosters expand on September 1.

Lewis Brinson was supposed to be the next big thing for Miami after their latest firesale, but he struggled for most of the first half then went down with a hip injury in early July. He’ll also be back September 1.

Caleb Smith came out of nowhere to put up pretty impressive numbers out of Miami’s rotation, but he was forced to undergo season-ending lat surgery in early July.

Jarlin Garcia is out of the Marlins bullpen for a short amount of time after being hit in the ankle with a line drive.

Garrett Cooper has been dealing with a sore wrist all year and it seems like he’ll be out of the lineup the rest of the year and opt for surgery.

Chris O’Grady went down with a shoulder injury just a few weeks into the season and at this point it seems reasonable to expect he’ll miss the rest of the year.

Elieser Hernandez has been out of the Marlins bullpen for a few days and will miss this entire series.

Weather Forecast

There will be no worries about getting these games in, but temperatures are expected to reach the high-90s during the day and it’s going to be really humid all week. Gross.