The 1-3 Florida Marlins are in town for the 1-2 Phillies’ home opener. Anibal Sanchez will oppose Cole Hamels, a match-up of two very talented starting pitchers. Both teams are coming off of disappointing openings to the season: the Phillies have pitched well but scored few runs; the Marlins have been hit-or-miss, falling victim to Kyle Lohse and Johnny Cueto but victimizing Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo.
Series at a Glance
- April 9: Anibal Sanchez (3.25 xFIP in 2011) @ Cole Hamels (3.02)
- April 11: Josh Johnson (3.32) @ Roy Halladay (2.71)
- April 12: Mark Buehrle (4.14) @ Joe Blanton (3.24 in 38 innings)
- Jose Reyes, SS (.386 wOBA in 2011)
- Emilio Bonifacio, CF (.341)
- Hanley Ramirez, 3B (.317)
- Gaby Sanchez, 1B (.342)
- Austin Kearns, LF (.262)
- Chris Coghlan, RF (.286)
- Omar Infante, 2B (.305)
- John Buck, C (.301)
- Anibal Sanchez, SP
- Juan Pierre, LF (.293)
- Placido Polanco, 3B (.304)
- Jimmy Rollins, SS (.329)
- Hunter Pence, RF (.405)
- Shane Victorino, CF (.372)
- John Mayberry, Jr., 1B (.369)
- Carlos Ruiz, C (.332)
- Freddy Galvis, 2B (N/A)
- Cole Hamels, SP
Dave Gershman (@Dave_Gershman), of ESPN’s Marlins Daily, and I swapped some questions to preview the series on our respective blogs, so make sure to stop over there to check out what I had to say about the Phillies. His answers about the Marlins are below.
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1. So you’ve seen the first regular season action in the new ballpark, albeit just one game. What are your initial thoughts? Do you think it will play as an extreme pitcher’s park as many are predicting?
Although I think it’s too early to tell whether or not the ballpark will favor pitchers rather than hitters, there are some initial problems concerning me that could easily be found within the confines of the park prior to the seasons start. The home run sculpture in center field is a basic issue that I have with the park. It’s almost directly in the batters eye, which too is bright green. There is just a lot of noise going on in center field which I think should be dimmed out if possible. Back to the question though, I do think the park will become a pitcher’s best friend. The dimensions are huge, and last time we saw dimensions as such for a brand new park was Citi Field.
2. Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t hit a home run yet. What’s wrong with him?
Absolutely nothing. The season is only four days old and we all know what Stanton is capable of.
3. Which hitter has most impressed you through four games? Which pitcher?
I’ll go with Omar Infante and Josh Johnson. It’s still early, but Infante’s big home run on Saturday night helped the Marlins win their first game of the season. Additionally, he almost hit for the cycle that night. Josh Johnson being healthy and pitching a decent game on Opening Night earns him my “most valuable pitcher through four games” award. If Johnson can stay healthy and simply be Josh Johnson, the Marlins post-season chances are much greater.
4. Which hitter has least impressed you through four games? Which pitcher?
Mike Stanton and Carlos Zambrano. The fact that Stanton hasn’t yet gone deep isn’t the problem for me. The issue that I have with Stanton is that a lot of the fastballs he’s been given have been rolled over to third base or elsewhere to the left side of the infield. Last season, all of those would be fly balls. Zambrano’s performance yesterday sells it. After a lousy first few innings, the right-hander easily penetrated the Marlins’ chances of winning the ballgame.
5. Anibal Sanchez increased his K/9 from 7.4 and 7.2 in 2009-10 to 9.3 last year, while also continuing to improve his control. What contributed to this change?
Like Ricky Nolasco, Sanchez threw his fastball more and got more whiffs outside the zone. His contact rate lowered because of that and, because of that, probably had him gain more confidence in his arsenal. In doing so, Sanchez has easily become one of the more feared starters in the NL East and has a chance to continue providing as a solid number two for the Fish for years to come.
6. Have the first few games of the season changed the way you feel about the NL East?
Not particularly. I’ll make my judgements in a couple of weeks once things settle down a bit. That said, I did expect the Braves to play better and the Mets the opposite. Cliff Lee failed to lead the Phillies to victory in his first start, but again, these things happen in the first few games of the season. If I made judgements after the first weekend of the season I would have given up on the Red Sox after the first week of last season.
7. How do you see this series playing out? Who wins?
Especially with the way these two teams played this weekend, it could go either way. That said, I think the Phillies will turn the bats on and, additionally, shut the Marlins down. The Fightin’s will win the series 2-1.
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Use this thread throughout the day to talk about the Phillies and the game.