The Reds (59-55) begin a new week with a three-game series against the Miami Marlins (58-55), still holding on to a tie with the hard-charging Cubs for the third and final National League Wild Card slot.
The Marlins are a half-game behind the Reds in that pursuit, so this series will have a direct impact on the postseason race. Miami is unfortunate to play in the same division as Atlanta, which means they are more than a dozen games out of first place in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Reds with an almost identical record are only 1.5 games out of the NL Central lead.
The Marlins are coming off a three-game sweep to the Texas Rangers. They have lost 16 of their last 21 games and have only one win in their previous 14 road games.
These three games will be played at Great American Ball Park.
- Monday (6:40 pm)
- Tuesday (6:40 pm)
- Wednesday (12:35 pm)
The Marlins have been a professional baseball organization since 1993, when the NL expanded to include them and the Colorado Rockies. In their 30 seasons, while the Marlins have never won their division, they have captured two World Series titles, in 1997 and 2003. Since that last league championship, the Marlins haven’t won a postseason game. Their only appearance was in 2020 when were swept in the NLDS.
The Reds and Marlins met in Miami in mid-May, when David Bell’s team beat Skip Schumaker’s two out of three. That Reds roster featured Henry Ramos, Wil Myers and Jose Barrero.
The Marlins offense has been middle-of-the-pack in 2023. They rank 18th in wRC+ (Reds 19th). Led by Luis Arraez (more on him in a minute), the Marlins rank third in batting average (Reds 15th) but are only 28th in power (Reds 15th). They also don’t take many walks, ranking 27th in BB% (Reds 8th). Since the All-Star break, both teams have slumped, with the Marlins ranking 21st in run production and the Reds 28th.
26-year-old Luis Arraez who won the AL batting title last year at .316 playing for the Minnesota Twins, is 30+ points ahead of Ronald Acuña for MLB best in 2023. Arraez is kind of one-dimensional, with only three homers and one stolen base. He also has a low walk-rate.
The Marlins added Josh Bell (Cleveland) and Jake Burger (White Sox) at the trade deadline. Both those guys have hit the ball hard this year with hard-luck results. Jorge Soler leads the Marlins with 26 homers, but Jazz Chisholm has 10 in only 200 plate appearances. Chisholm has missed two months with a couple of injuries (turf toe, oblique).
Starting Pitcher Matchups
Overall, the Marlins rotation has been good this year. They rank 11th in ERA (Reds 28th), 4th in SIERA (Reds 23rd) and 6th in xERA (Reds 27th). The Marlins haven’t indicated who will start Tuesday and Wednesday. We know it won’t be 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, because he pitched yesterday.
Reds fans with a memory of the 2023 team before the McLain/Elly Times, will remember the debut of phenom Eury Perez. It came against the Reds on May 12 in Miami. The 20-year-old Perez is one of the top prospects in the sport. To help jog your memory, Perez is 6’8″ and 220. Tyler Stephenson and Jake Fraley homered for the Reds only two runs off Perez. If you think his stats are impressive, consider that one of his starts lasted 0.1 innings when he gave up six runs to Atlanta.
Perez made 11 starts up to the All-Star Game. Concerned about his innings, the Marlins shelved him coming out of the break. Tonight will be his first start back. Perez throws a 98-mph fastball that’s in the 95th percentile in velocity and 99th percentile in spin. His second pitch is an 87-mph slider. Perez also throws a curve and changeup.
Braxton Garrett would be making his 22nd start of the 2023 season. The 26-year-old lefty shut down the Reds on May 14, giving up one run in five innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out eight. Garrett has been up and down, but mostly good. Note the super-low SIERA which is a product of his well above average strikeout rate and minuscule walk rate. The catch is he’s been hit hard, falling to the 7th percentile of average exit velocity. He throws a bunch of pitches but sinker-slider-cutter is his base repertoire.
The Marlins signed old friend Johnny Cueto to a one-year free agent contract for $8.5 million. But Cueto missed the pre-All-Star Game months with a biceps issue. He’ll be making his fifth start of the season. Cueto throws five pitches but his fastball is still his #1. Cueto debuted in Cincinnati in 2008. His fastball with the Reds averaged 93 mph. Cueto’s heater has lost a mph since then.
The Marlins added to an already solid bullpen by acquiring veteran closer David Robertson at the trade deadline. The Marlins rank solidly among top ten bullpens in fielding independent measures.
Robertson is joined by several strong set-up arms. Check out the strikeout numbers, all above 30%.
The Marlins have strengths. Eury Perez is one. The top half of the bullpen. They have a surprisingly deep lineup recently augmented with a couple trade acquisitions. On the other hand, they’ve been skidding on the scoreboard, especially in road games. The Reds have a chance in this series to get things turned around.
Photos: Marlins Twitter